Strata Energy Services Inc.

Strata is a specialised drilling-services company headquartered in Alberta, Canada. Its principal business is the provision of under-balanced drilling ("UBD") and managed-pressure drilling ("MPD") services to oil companies.

Strata is, on many measures, the third largest fully-integrated UBD company in the world. It currently has operations in Canada, the United States and Kurdistan. Its patented rotating-head equipment is recognised as a world leader and both Halliburton and Schlumberger use Strata's technology to provide UBD services to their customers.  Strata provides drilling services for an increasing number of major oil and gas companies in North America as well as for operators in Kurdistan.

Strata has registered intellectual property protection in the principal equipment used for its drilling activities, such as its rotating fluid diverters.

Strata's primary drilling services involve UBD and MPD:

• Under-balanced drilling

UBD is used to drill a well in which the drilling-fluid pressure gradient is less than the formation pressure gradient for a specific interval of the well, often while drilling the exploitable rock formation, known as the 'pay zone'. This method is unlike conventional drilling, where the drilling-fluid pressure exceeds the formation pressure, which causes drilling-fluid invasion into the formation. One of the benefits of UBD is that it prevents drilling-fluid invasion and, in some cases, the pay zone can produce into the wellbore even while drilling proceeds. The effect that UBD has on the wellbore is to reduce or eliminate formation damage due to fluid invasion.

In addition, UBD is of major importance when drilling mature fields with depleted reservoir pressures. In these cases, conventional drilling would result in significant loss of expensive drilling fluids, pay-zone damage and hole-stability problems. This combination has historically been a barrier to the use of conventional drilling in areas such as the Athabasca Sands in Canada, which have huge oil deposits.

• Managed-pressure drilling

The use of MPD is rapidly expanding and it is an activity where Strata is enjoying significant growth in demand. MPD is the practice whereby the drilling-fluid pressure gradient is maintained at close to balance with the formation pressure. This balance is facilitated by an automatic drilling choke that enables the back pressure, and subsequent pressure on the formation, to be maintained at pre-set levels. The RFD ensures total well control at all times.

The result of MPD is the achievement of significantly enhanced well control and safety, as well as increased drilling rates and lowered fluid losses. Many operators are seeking to add MPD to all of their drilling operations, particularly in response to the deficiencies demonstrated during the Macondo disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, where the use of MPD might have averted the catastrophe.


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