Have you ever wonder about what is a MWD engineer and what do they do? I have never thought of that until I became an MWD engineer trainee last year. It has been 3 months I worked in the field as a MWD engineer in a drilling service company, moreover I already know what a MWD engineers do at works. I will try to fill your gap about what really MWD engineers do on the duty.
I wear coveralls and fancy Red Wings shoes to work everyday. What I wear inside the coveralls are basically a worn t-shirt and a short, so we do not wear fancy shirt and slack pants to work as MWD engineer. You would not even need that a bit as you work as MWD Engineer, even in the interview I wore dark jeans and oxford shirt. That is one advantage though that we do not need expensive clothes to work. But because you work in oil field, you have to wear hard hat everytime. The hard hat is not fancy, for me it’s kind of wussy. In fashion’s point of view, there is no way to look stylish if you work in the field. There’s a pro and cons about the working outfits though.
Basic job desc: providing real time measurement data of directional drilling activities. We obtain the measurement data using our downhole tool via telemetry system. There are two common telemetry systems: positive pulse (mechanical) and electro magnetic system (electrical). The measurement data is very important for directional drilling because it tells our trajectory well’s position relative to our target. Sometimes there are nearbies well and surely we do not want to collide with them. That is one of the importance of directional data, to avoid well colliding. To guide our bit drilled the right trajectory surely needs a compass or navigator to make a right move, and the measurement data are the hints. MWD engineer install the measurement sensor inside the Bottom Hole Assembly. During the BHA goes along the drilled hole, MWD acquire real time data for temperature, pressure (sometimes), toolface (motor bent sub direction), and survey. Survey conducted every 30 metres or 100 feets of drill pipe enter the hole. That 30 metres summed to the drill pipe tally known as measured depth (MD). Others depth known as True Vertical Depth, defined as vertical depth from surface to the bit. The more inclination of the well, the TVDs are getting smaller compared to the MD.
Work shift: 12 hours working hour everyday as long as the drilling process runs. As long the drilling has not reached its target, we work 7 days a week. Your ON time in the drilling site may reach 1 months or more, and you can get OFF time for maximum 1-2 weeks. You will be payed a “rig day bonus” counted from the day you arrived at the site until you leave the site. The more days you work, the more the pay check at the end of next month. The hardest part while working on the rig site is withstand the pressure of outcast working. Almost all drilling rig located on rural and secluded from civilization. Your day filled only with working and working all days. I read a lot while standby (we have much stand by time) or playing games on laptop. MWD engineers has free time when the drilling has no problem, we just have to stand by for the survey until next Stand Down pipe. During that time we could change into Movie While Drilling crews, killing free time by watching movie. There always positive matters to be seek among the mundane activities as MWD engineers.
Career path: working with specialized and distinctive tools make MWD engineer could be categorized as specialist career. After working several times with the tools, you will mastering the tools. Just mastering does not mean you understand the inside of the tool. You are more of a operator than engineer though. You can become Directional Drillers (DD) or working in the office as MWD coordinator.