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Modern-Day Land Rigs vs. Old-Fashioned Land Rigs


Crude oil is the lifeblood of economies. Without oil, modern society would practically come to a halt.

The United States is now the largest oil producer in the world. It’s responsible for 15% of crude oil production, followed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Canada. This feat did not happen overnight. The pioneer oil drillers extracted a few thousand barrels a day, but thanks to modern-day land rigs, U.S. field production of crude oil is now at 11.3 million b/d.

modern-day land rig

Here’s a quick look at how old-fashioned land rigs compared to modern-day land rigs.

A Brief Timeline of Oil Drilling Land Rigs

Drilling rigs boreholes into the earth to find oil. However, way before the high-spec land rigs you see today, old-fashioned rigs ruled the oil fields in the early days.

  • 1859: Edwin Drake drilled the first oil well in Titusville, PA, using wooden rigs
  • 1901: The discovery of the first deep oil well in the U.S. at Spindletop near Beaumont, TX, ushered in the liquid fuel age
  • 1909: Hughes and Shapr patented the first roller-cone drill bit
  • 1950: Evolving from steam-powered rigs, land rigs started making use of diesel power
  • 1970: Onsite electric generators were used to power oil drilling rig components
  • 1984: Rotary steerable systems were introduced
  • 1997: The rotary closed-loop system was introduced, paving the way for a more precise drilling process
  • 2002: AV variable frequency drive power drill systems were introduced for more efficiency
  • 2012: Hydraulic legs allowed rigs to move from one drilling site to the next

From old-fashioned land rigs to modern-day land rigs, the anatomy of the oil rig system remained consistent. They have a power system, a mechanical system, and rotating equipment that does the drilling. Modern-day setups add newer technologies for efficiency, safety, and convenience.

Advantages of Modern-Day Land Rigs

Onshore oil rigs come in different forms and sizes. They can be classified based on the maximum depth they can drill and the amount of mobility they allow during actual application.

Below are some of the advantages of modern-day land rigs over their predecessors:

1. Safety

While there’s always potential danger working on oil rights, tighter regulations and better technology mean that modern oil rigs are much safer compared to the drills used by the pioneers of the oil industry. A work safety report for the oil industry pegs job-related nonfatal injuries at 1.7 per 100 full-time workers.

2. Efficiency

With the use of modern equipment, oil exploration and drilling have become more efficient. The cost of modern-day land rigs could be between $18 to $25 million or more, depending on the classification. Meanwhile, an unsuccessful exploration can cost between $5 and $20 million, but this can be quickly recovered and significantly less compared to potential revenue, if successful.

3. Flexibility and Scalability

With oil drilling onshore requiring more unconventional strategies, modern oil drilling rigs offer the versatility and robust performance needed to minimize spending while making the most of potential production.

Pipe Protection Products to Help Create a Safer Oil Industry

MSI Pipe Protection Technologies works with many of the major players in the oil industry around the world, helping to keep their assets safe. We offer the widest range of pipe protection products covering OCTG, line pipe, drill pipe applications, and more.

Contact us today to learn more about how MSI can help your business.

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