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Here is the good news: 2010 is shaping up to be better than 2009. Here is the bad news: It will still be a tough year. Jackup and land rig utilization numbers are coming off bottom but still relatively weak. The deepwater market, which has largely remained immune thus far...

Critical issues in drilling and completions

By Linda Hsieh, assistant managing editor

Nabors’ Rig 607 is drilling for Saudi Aramco.

Nabors’ Rig 607 is drilling for Saudi Aramco.

Here is the good news: 2010 is shaping up to be better than 2009. Here is the bad news: It will still be a tough year.

Jackup and land rig utilization numbers are coming off bottom but still relatively weak. The deepwater market, which has largely remained immune thus far, is starting to feel pressure from extra capacity as newbuilds are delivered. Even already-contracted units can be problematic if subletting from operator to operator becomes a trend.

On the technology side, emerging solutions like MPD and subsea completions continue to seek wider acceptance, while companies are contending with pressures, temperatures, water depths and well depths that would have been out of the question just a few years ago.

Then there are our rigs. Are we building them with the features that operators require now and in the coming decades? As the need for completion and production capabilities increase, how can drilling contractors satisfy those on top of drilling requirements? Advances have been made on equipment such as top drives, mud pumps and fluid systems, but more improvements are still needed.

Toufeeq Walker Ralls deLange

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Juran Meissner Kautz Cunningham

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Halvorsen Williams Mathieson

And the one critical issue that is again looming large is people. As rigs go back to work (we hope), experienced talent will be scarce. John de Lange of BG Group realizes the importance of a skilled work force: “If something goes wrong in well engineering, we all stare at the small black hole beneath the rotary table.”

At the start of a new year that everyone hopes will turn out better than the last, DC has gathered 11 industry leaders to express their hopes, plans and concerns for 2010 and beyond. It’s not all good news, but when is it ever?

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