Slideshow: Spring breakup in action
A snapshot of a rig tear-down conducted by Mullen Oilfield Service
The old adage that if you don’t like the weather in Alberta, just wait 10 minutes, might be comforting for people during a spring storm, but it makes planning a rig move tricky.
Spring breakup, which often turns prairie drill sites into soupy messes, can shut in remote areas of the province altogether, while weight restrictions of between 75 to 90 per cent of a legal load limit act as deterrent for other operators.
Despite the extra costs of moving lighter loads and specialized equipment to operate on muddy leases, not all of Mullen Oilfield Services’ work in the spring occurs south of the border, where breakup is less of an issue.
The Calgary-based company was at a lease just south of Grande Prairie on May 7 with a 25-person crew. Moving a crane drilling rig 20 kilometers – same operator, same field – was a two-day job. “That was 90 loads, which is a fairly high load count,” says Michael Kent, who works for Mullen on business development and special projects. “I would say the typical average would be closer to 40.”
Mullen had two cranes, three bed trucks, a picker truck and eight-to-12 haul units on site. The heaviest load was the pump houses, which weighed between 110,000 – 125,000 pounds. The oversize loads were 12-feet wide and require additional axles on the trailer – 48 wheels in total. It’s not the kind of move you want to do in foul weather.