In the Williston Basin of North Dakota, new oil discovery areas known as “plays” have business booming for Bronco Drilling Company, which is riding high with its inventory of refurbished steel rigs protected by a high-gloss industrial enamel coating from Tnemec. “Bronco Drilling Company has made Tnemec their standard coating for all their rigs,” coating consultant Mike Cox acknowledged. “They require excellent coverage and durability, as well as color and gloss retention, which Tnemec provides.”
The steel substrate of the drilling rigs are prepared by sand blasting to produce a surface similar to the SSPC-SP 6/NACE No. 3, Commercial Blast Cleaning standard. Using conventional air spray, company maintenance crews apply Series 2H Hi-Build Tneme-Gloss, a high-gloss alkyd that offers good flow, hiding and protection. Four rigs completed over a two-month period required more than 470 gallons of coating in the colors white, gray, safety yellow, Cat yellow, National Blue and gray primer.
Bronco Drilling Company is one of a number of companies drilling in the Bakken shale formation, which holds billions of barrels of recoverable oil based on the United States Geological Survey (USGS) estimates. In the past, drilling in the Williston Basin produced sour crude containing hydrogen sulfide (H2S), which was toxic and expensive to remove. “The entire play up there consisted of sour crude,” Cox recalled. “Now, with the Bakken formation, it’s very high-quality crude oil and North Dakota is back on the map as an extremely viable area with massive volumes of sweet crude oil, which offers a high yield of gasoline and other petroleum products.”
Operators in the Bakken shale formation use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing techniques similar to those used in all natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. today. Fracturing fluids are trucked to the well site in pressurized tanker trucks that are often lined with Tnemec coatings, offering superior protection against organic and inorganic acids and sour crude. “A single well will have more than 60 of these tank trucks hauling fluids to a site during the fracturing operation,” Cox added. “They use a lot of Tnemec specialized linings.”
Located beneath much of North Dakota, eastern Montana, northwestern South Dakota and lower Manitoba and Saskatchewan, the Bakken shale formation covers more than 24,000 square miles, making it the largest oil pool found in U.S. history next to the oil fields in Alaska.