Drilling automation

Drilling-Systems Automation Roadmap Improves Decision Making

The authors describe a drilling-systems automation roadmap for a transition from humans to automation in the general drilling space.

Erratic tool-face orientation.
Fig. 1—Erratic tool-face orientation.

A joint industry project has created a drilling-systems-automation (DSA) roadmap to help the industry understand and anticipate the direction of drilling systems automation. In the complete paper, the authors suggest that the transition from human action to automation in the general drilling space can occur across four cognitive functions: acquiring information, analyzing and displaying information, deciding action, and implementing action. They also suggest that value exists in partial automation.

Directional Drilling: Human to Automated

One of the more-important tasks of the directional driller historically has been to decide when to rotate the pipe from the surface in an attempt to drill relatively straight and when to stop rotation, point a bent sub in the desired direction, and determine how long to drill using only the downhole mud motor (sliding) and then implement that decision on the rig.

While some directional drillers perform this task at a high level, others often fail to compensate properly for multiple variables including variations in rotary walk and build, motor-yield variations, tortuosity risks, target uncertainty, and deflections. Even expert directional drillers rarely account for reduced hydrocarbon production potential related to drilling accuracy on a survey-by-survey basis.

The following individual tasks, detailed in the complete paper, have been automated in a bit-guidance system that operates across the four cognitive functions detailed in the DSA roadmap.

  • Acquire information
  • Analyze and display information
  • Decide action
  • Implement action

Although the tasks across the full process have been automated, the next section of the complete paper focuses on automation of one of the analysis steps as an example of how automating individual tasks creates value.

Automated Analysis and Decision Making: A Case Study

A universal standard procedure for continuously estimating the position of the bit and its trajectory relative to the well plan has never been defined in the industry.

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