Volant Products Inc. : Well Construction Transformed

Jack Salter Olando Greenock
By Jack Salter  - Editor Olando Greenock  - Head of Projects
Volant Headquarters

Improving well construction relies on the optimization of casing and liner string installation. Dan Shute, CEO of Volant, highlights how its flagship casing running tools have become the centerpiece of an evolving portfolio of hardware and digital offerings that provide safe, efficient, and effective running solutions.

INTRODUCTION

‘’Our business focus is to increase the efficiency, reliability, safety, and technical quality of the casing installation process, which is exactly what is needed to improve the responsible recovery of oil and gas reserves.” 

When it comes to well construction, there are a multitude of risks, equipment, and personnel requirements associated with traditional casing and liner running activities. 

Casing, the largest pipe and permanent part of the wellbore provides structural support for the well and isolates its contents from the surrounding formation. 

Since 2001, Volant has specialized in casing system installation, focused on transforming the way oil, gas and geothermal wells are constructed, and reducing the risks without sacrificing quality or time. 

Volant’s portfolio of manufactured products and digital solutions remove people from harm’s way, advance industry practices, and reduce environmental impacts both during the well construction process and throughout the well’s lifespan. 

“Our equipment is reliable and easy to use. As a result, we enjoy a significant global market share with our top drive casing running tools,” continues Dan Shute, CEO of Volant. 

Based in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Volant operates in one of Canada’s richest oil provinces and has leveraged this to become a technology leader in casing installation. 

Global energy requirements correlate directly with population, which is still increasing, particularly in developing nations. Alternative energy deployment at a meaningful scale requires more time, technology development, and investment than is possible in the timeframe targeted by many governments and advocacy groups. Forcing an accelerated energy transition would drive ongoing inflation in developed countries causing many families to face decisions between food and heat. Depriving underprivileged people of affordable energy would have even more devastating consequences. 

Volant Loadframe

Given this, Shute believes that oil and gas will remain necessary for many more decades to come. 

“I live in Alberta, work in the oil and gas industry, and support the responsible development and use of hydrocarbons. It’s not that we don’t think there’s a place for alternative energy, but it’s really important to do everything we can in the oil and gas sector and do a better job at getting from where we are to where we need to be,” he observes.

‘’Our business focus is to increase the efficiency, reliability, safety, and technical quality of the casing installation process, which is exactly what is needed to improve the responsible recovery of oil and gas reserves.” 

When it comes to well construction, there are a multitude of risks, equipment, and personnel requirements associated with traditional casing and liner running activities. 

Casing, the largest pipe and permanent part of the wellbore provides structural support for the well and isolates its contents from the surrounding formation. 

Since 2001, Volant has specialized in casing system installation, focused on transforming the way oil, gas and geothermal wells are constructed, and reducing the risks without sacrificing quality or time. 

Volant’s portfolio of manufactured products and digital solutions remove people from harm’s way, advance industry practices, and reduce environmental impacts both during the well construction process and throughout the well’s lifespan. 

“Our equipment is reliable and easy to use. As a result, we enjoy a significant global market share with our top drive casing running tools,” continues Dan Shute, CEO of Volant. 

Based in Edmonton, the capital of Alberta, Volant operates in one of Canada’s richest oil provinces and has leveraged this to become a technology leader in casing installation. 

Global energy requirements correlate directly with population, which is still increasing, particularly in developing nations. Alternative energy deployment at a meaningful scale requires more time, technology development, and investment than is possible in the timeframe targeted by many governments and advocacy groups. Forcing an accelerated energy transition would drive ongoing inflation in developed countries causing many families to face decisions between food and heat. Depriving underprivileged people of affordable energy would have even more devastating consequences. 

Given this, Shute believes that oil and gas will remain necessary for many more decades to come. 

“I live in Alberta, work in the oil and gas industry, and support the responsible development and use of hydrocarbons. It’s not that we don’t think there’s a place for alternative energy, but it’s really important to do everything we can in the oil and gas sector and do a better job at getting from where we are to where we need to be,” he observes. 

STRENGTH IN DISCOVERY

The vast majority of Volant’s 150 employees are based in Edmonton, and their capabilities are deeply rooted in technology.  

“Volant is really a technology company, and our historic strength is in the space of discovery,” Shute tells us. 

“That means discovering problems that do not yet have solutions, discovering the solutions that can be brought to bear, and discovering mechanical designs, software and services.” 

Volant, whose equipment is simple to use and tough enough to withstand even the harshest conditions, offers robust technologies that are designed, tested and manufactured in-house. 

Offering industry-leading capacity with the smallest footprint available for casing running or drilling operations, is Volant’s flagship CRTi® (internal grip) and CRTe® (external grip) casing running tools

Equipped with TAWG® – torque activated wedge grip technology – these tools are fully mechanical and designed for casing running or drilling on top drive equipped rigs to makeup and breakout casing connections, reciprocate, fill, circulate, and cement casing and liner strings, enabling personnel and equipment to be removed from the rig floor and helping to avoid instances of stuck pipes. 

“As well trajectories become more complex, it is increasingly difficult to get casing or liner strings to the target depth of the well,” explains Shute. 

“By reaching target depth more reliably, we are improving the immediate economics and the responsibility with which we’re developing hydrocarbon assets.” 

From rig up to rig down and every step along the way, CRTi® and CRTe® casing running tools reduce non-productive time and put control in the hands of the driller, resulting in improved safety and enhanced efficiency.  

As the most widely used top drive casing running tools in the world, Volant’s technology is proven where it matters in the real world of field operations and has been a catalyst in the oil, gas and geothermal well industry’s shift towards simpler and less labor-intensive casing running operations.   

“With a single piece of equipment, we have removed people from harm’s way and reduced the number of people needed at the drilling rig, which improves safety,” Shute acclaims. 

“The beauty of a mechanical top drive casing running tool compared to a hydraulic casing running tool is that the drillers themselves are the operators of the tool. In doing so, you remove third-party operators who are not part of the team, don’t know the rhythm of the rig, and as a result improve safety significantly.” 

Volant at the core is a technology company, and it’s the commitment to customers and the industry that drives the evolution of its casing running tool portfolio.  

This is evident in their latest casing running tool advancement with the recent launch of Volant’s ActiveSET™ and vCAM™ technology. This new tool design has been developed with the driller experience in mind, making an easy-to-operate tool even easier, reducing and simplifying the steps required to function the tool and empowering every driller, regardless of experience, to have more confidence in their casing running abilities.   

Volant Field Services Maintainence

Equally, a quality cement job is vital to ensuring uninterrupted zonal isolation and long-term well integrity. 

Volant’s suite of cementing equipment offers operators, drilling contractors, and service companies the flexibility desired while maintaining the highest standards of safety, efficiency, and reliability. 

Where pumping cement through the top drive is to be avoided, the Volant cement swivel provides a means to introduce cement below the top drive, through a side-entry port. 

Compatible with both the CRTi® and CRTe® casing running tools, the cement swivel offers a long wear life and reduces maintenance requirements due in part to its self-cleaning internal geometry.  

“After you install a casing string, it gets cemented into the formation and becomes a permanent part of the well structure, so we offer a cement swivel that allows cementers to connect to the casing while still allowing it to rotate,” Shute shares. 

“We believe that rotating the casing during cementing is the best way to displace the drilling fluid and replace it with cement. When you’re fracking a well, hydraulic isolation really matters; rotating the casing increases the short-term productivity of the well and the overall productivity of the asset.” 

Volant Edmonton Warehouse

DIGITAL EFFICIENCY AT VOLANT

Volant not only provides tools to get casing and liner strings to their target depth, but an evolving suite of digital solutions, optimizing casing installation decisions and improving overall well integrity. 

In 2017, Volant fully commercialized its first proprietary digital software called VolantRED™, where RED stands for Real-time Engineering Deployment. The software was initially developed with support from one of Canada’s largest oil companies to enable more effective and efficient installation of slotted liners in thermal wells.   

Since its initial launch, VolantRED has evolved into a useful planning tool, an advanced realtime tool, and a quality control tool.   

As a planning tool, the software performs engineering calculations to predict running loads and resulting combined loads that will be applied to the pipe body, casing connections, and completion elements. It provides a comprehensive and rational basis for selecting centralizers, specifying fixed or floating centralizers, and rotating casing during installation. 

As a realtime tool, in addition to the thermal well applications for slotted liner installation, VolantRED has been further enhanced for use on extended reach drilling (ERD) wells to enable comparison of the actual casing running job to the plan. If the operation is trending towards installation problems, there is ample opportunity to intervene and do something different before wasting valuable time. 

As a quality control tool, VolantRED provides an enduring quality record demonstrating compliance with combined load limits for connections and other completion components.   

While VolantRED was initially developed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of sub-surface casing and liner installation, the same data could also be used to identify opportunities for efficiency gains in tubular running operations on the surface.   

Volant’s TRUE™ (Tubular Running Efficiency) Analysis breaks down the in-slip casing running cycle into segments and reports on the distribution of time used during each cycle, eliminating uncertainty regarding rig time utilization. 

“TRUE™ Analysis is characterized by taking measurements from the drilling rig that are already available on the data stream and doing engineering calculations on those measurements in real-time to better inform the casing installation process,” Shute explains. 

“We can tell you how many joints per hour you averaged on the job, and how long each joint took to prepare and lower into the wellbore. We can identify where there are inconsistencies, and opportunities to build efficiency and consistency. 

“It has enabled us to really refine our product offering, simplify the way our equipment works, and actually improve our efficiency,” he adds.  

On the subject of efficiency, Shute highlights automation as one of the tools being increasingly offered to operators by drilling contractors. 

Less than a year ago, Volant established a digital solutions department, whose first mandate is to develop an instrumentation system for its casing running tools. Once available, instrumentation will enable users to integrate Volant equipment with rig automation systems. 

“We believe that there is going to be more automation, not less, on drilling rigs in the future, and part of our digital solution offering is casing running tool instrumentation,” outlines Shute. 

“We are very excited about the impact of software and instrumentation on the utility of our hardware solutions, and the way service is delivered at the drilling rig. Our top priority is to leverage digital solutions to help our customers further improve their efficiency and the quality of their wells.” 

We let our people know that they should be proud to work in a part of the oil and gas industry that is actually improving the way we develop resources.” 

Dan Shute, CEO, Volant

CASING MADE SIMPLE

Such mechanical design and casing installation expertise is what drives the discovery of technology at Volant, which is then embedded into the company’s hardware, software and services. 

Whilst this expertise is often complicated and difficult to apply, Volant works hard to take complexity and apply it within simple equipment and tools that are accessible to a broad audience. 

“We believe that this is a significant part of why we enjoy a really great market share,” affirms Shute.  

Likewise, Volant knows that strong and effective teams are key to the company’s success, in an atmosphere where everyone can learn, grow, and be respected. 

“If you were to step inside Volant, you would find a culture where our staff are interested in making each other successful. It’s one of the purest forms of teamwork that you can have, where you’re genuinely looking for ways to help each other,” Shute says. 

“We also place customer service right at the top of our priority list. It’s one of the three cultural pillars that we teach our staff internally, and we deliver on our promises.” 

Supplier and partner relationships present another snapshot of the culture at Volant.  

Carbon steel tube, for instance, is the material used for HydroFORM centralizers, and the company has worked diligently with pipe mills to deliver the high-quality steel required for this application. 

Similarly, building relationships with suppliers of CNC machine tools used for manufacturing complex parts will enable ongoing improvement to Volant’s business. The best relationships include investment by suppliers in technical support and training that drive operational excellence. 

Finding such relationships that are based on communication and openness, and the trust that comes from that, has been a key part of enabling Volant’s growth. 

“Supply chain management has been a challenge globally, so when we find suppliers that are able to maintain strong communication with us to deliver what we need, when we need it, and of the quality Volant and our customers expect, we are better able to realize success,” acknowledges Shute. 

Driven by doing the right things for the right reasons, Volant is also increasing its communication with operators, understanding that they are the ones who ultimately decide what technology is used to construct their wells. 

“Marketing to operators, and building their understanding of the technology that’s available to them, is absolutely a key part of transforming well construction,” he concludes. 

Volant Load Tester Overhead

CRTI® and CRTE® FEATURES AND BENEFITS 

Compact, mechanical design removes multiple people and equipment from the rig floor. 

Incorporates multiple functions into a single service and single piece of equipment, reducing non-productive time. 

Mechanical activation by top drive control using TAWG® technology allows the tools to be operated by the driller. 

Ability to rotate, reciprocate, fill and circulate casing and liner strings reduces downhole friction. 

Self-energized in torsion as well as hoisting to prevent slippage in either application. 

Dies are designed to maximize the contact with the casing, ensuring no slippage or distortion of the casing or liner. 

Volant Field Services Maintainence

HOW ARE VOLANT CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF THE OIL AND GAS INDUSTRY? 

Dan Shute, CEO: “We change the complexion of the rig floor, by taking people out of harm’s way and putting machines in high-risk locations. In turn, we reduce the number of people who need to travel to and from the rig.  

“On the environment side, we can minimize the time required for a rig to install a casing string. In some cases, tens of hours are trimmed off a casing run.  

“When we trim time off a casing run, that translates directly into less diesel fuel used to power the rig. When we enable our customers to reach target depth more reliably they can access more hydrocarbons using the same well, resulting in not just an economic improvement, but an efficiency improvement in reservoir development.  

VOLANT PARTNERS

Jiangyin Xinyu Forging Ltd

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