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Rijswijk, the Netherlands

Herrenknecht Vertical designed a test rig based on a design brief from Shell’s international R&D center.


The rig tests new drilling technologies and work processes for exploring oil and gas deposits. 

Specialized rig, special location

In Rijswijk, the Netherlands, a 250 tonne test rig has been operating regularly since 2007. Installed next to the Shell R&D center, the rig tests new drilling technologies and work processes for oil and gas exploration. This unique offsite test setup avoids interrupting real field operations where such tests would usually be realized.

Together with Shell’s drilling specialists, Herreknecht Vertical developed an R&D rig adapted to the requirements of the Rijswijk R&D center. The rig’s substructure, for example, comprises four hydraulic cylinders whose height can be varied by 2 meters for any combination of wellhead spools. The rig can also be moved laterally to allow work on three test wells alternately.

Always full control

In 2010, Shell E&P and Herrenknecht Vertical carried out a pull test to study the impact of a sudden loss of hook load on the rig. Caused for example by the loss of the drill pipe, this scenario is dangerous, particularly on conventional drilling rigs with rope drawworks, since the hook and the traveling block on the ropes move rapidly upwards. The loss of control over the rope drawworks and the danger of falling parts are hazardous to personnel and can damage the equipment.

Vibration measurements at the top drive were carried out during normal rig operation before the test. Additionally, a second measurement was made afterwards as a comparison and so detect possible damage. For the pull test, the drill pipes connected to the top drive were anchored in the well and a pre-defined breakage with a pre-defined load was triggered using shear devices. During the experiment, rig data and test parameters such as hook load, cylinder and pump pressures were recorded. The result: the maximum distance on the hoisting cylinders at the time of the load breakage with a load of 123 tonnes was only 200 millimeters, and the rise in vibration was negligible.

Highly positive test results

The Herrenknecht Vertical hydraulic rig’s excellent results were helped by the design of the top drive’s axial main bearings. These are resiliently biased and have a cushioning effect via the drill pipe. This means that impacts can be compensated for, as they may occur for instance in the case of a sudden loss of hook load or when using shear devices (jarring), and the top drive is protected. On conventional drawwork rigs, the top drive needs to be inspected after every use of drilling jars.

In addition to the dynamic pull test, the indicated hook load of the TI-250 test rig was verified. For this test, the drill pipe was anchored in the well without shear devices and the hook load was increased from 150 to 250 tonnes and then maintained. All parameters were within the usual range. The results confirm that the TI-250 test rig meets normal operational requirements, and can easily cope with for example a sudden loss of hook load.

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Advantages in the focus

As well as the hydraulic hoist system increasing safety on drilling rigs, our rigs’ high degree of automation, using hands-off technologies such as the hydraulic pipe handler, minimizes the number of personnel needed and reduces the risk of accidents. Our hydraulic rigs also have low space requirements and noise emissions, high tripping speeds and simple skidding.

The Herrenknecht Vertical rig’s quietness and safety enabled it to be placed next to Shell’s R&D center. Precise control of the drilling process through the hydraulic hoisting and rotary system also makes the TI-250 test rig ideal for this special application.

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Download our data sheet




Rijswijk, the Netherlands


Shell E&P

Rig type:

TI-250 test rig


Testing drilling equipment and procedures

Pull test parameters:

dynamic load with shear devices: 50 / 123 / 50 tonnes
static load without shear devices: 150 / 175 / 200 / 250 tonnes