Skip to main content
TI-350 Slingshot

Shale gas exploration in China

The first of its kind in Asia

Sichuan province, China

Herrenknecht Vertical supplied the first deep drilling rig type TI-350 Slingshot – known as the ”Innovative Hydraulic Rig“ – to China. The rig's high level of automation allows precise and safe drilling to a depth of 6,000 meters with maximized working safety and small crews. With its hydraulic XY stepping system the entire rig can be skidded in two directions to drill multiple wells from a single location.

The most efficient solution for the exploration of shale gas is a so-called multi-well pad, on which the drilling rig moves itself step by step from well to well easily and quickly. Herrenknecht Vertical’s implementation of this idea was the XY stepping system integrated into the ”Innovative Hydraulic Rig“ of the type TI-350 Slingshot delivered to China in 2014. Hydraulic cylinder supports can raise the entire deep drilling rig and move it several meters – forward and backward as well as laterally. Time-consuming and costly rig-down and rig-up procedures are eliminated.

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) placed the order with Herrenknecht Vertical. China's biggest oil and gas producer required a project-specific and customized rig for the exploration of shale gas deposits in the Sichuan province. The exploration and production of natural gas trapped in shale is considered technically challenging. A number of deviated wells at depths of several thousand meters are required in this region.

XY stepping and dedicated training speed up hands-off pad drilling

Thanks to the XY stepping system, the wells could be drilled with an alternating program: the wells were not drilled one after the other, but section by section, eliminating the need for frequent drill pipe and mud changes. Due to the telescopic catwalk in the horizontal pipe rack system, the rack also stayed in place when skidding the rig, as the catwalk transfers the tubulars always to the same hand-over position for the pipe handler. With the technical features of the XY stepping system and telescopic catwalk, the TI-350 Slingshot was the ideal choice for efficient shale gas drilling in depths down to 5,500 meters and more.

Herrenknecht Vertical‘s dedicated training program for the customer's crew and service personnel proved to bear fruit in the project. Experienced on conventional rigs only, the team highly benefited from the initial training and started drilling efficiently with the hydraulic rig right from the first spud-in. Later on, the Herrenknecht Vertical service team conducted additional special training on tripping operations, which benefits drilling particularly at greater depths by speeding up the process. As of autumn 2017, four wells are finished with depths from 5,100 to 5,700 meters (MD). On well 5 and 6 the first two sections have already been drilled, and drilling on the last section of well 5 is ongoing.

Benefits of the “Innovative Hydraulic Rig”

Hydraulically assisted processes in Herrenknecht Vertical deep drilling rigs are the basis for several technical innovations. Compared with conventional systems, their use offers substantial time and cost savings while increasing safety in particular. The supply of the drill pipes and casing into the well center, for example, is handled by the pipe handler, a hydraulic gripper arm in this case. This passes the drill pipes onto the elevator at the top drive, which is controlled by a hydraulic cylinder hoisting system that ensures control with millimeter accuracy and therefore precise work in the well.

The rig operator can see all processes in real time on the cockpit displays in the driller’s cabin. Data are recorded for later evaluation and provide the basis for constant project monitoring and optimization. Operating the rig from the driller's cabin further reduces the presence of personnel in hazardous areas. The high level of automation means the Herrenknecht Vertical drilling rig can be staffed by only four crew members per shift. That reduces crew sizes by up to 40 percent, yielding significant cost savings.

Herrenknecht Vertical’s ”Innovative Hydraulic Rig“ TI-350 Slingshot is the first rig of its kind in the Asian market. It will help to establish highly automated deep drilling systems in China and Asia by offering significant advantages in terms of safety and efficiency.

Download our project data sheet:



Sichuan Province, China

Rig type:
TI-350 Slingshot

Shale gas exploration drilling

Drilling depths:
up to 5,700 m (18,7000 ft)

Well diameter:
26” to 8 1/2”

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) / Chuanqing Drilling

Related Content










Send us a message.