Drilling automation

SLB Celebrates a 99% Autonomously Drilled Well Section for Equinor

The oilfield service giant said it has taken another big step toward fully autonomous drilling operations in its latest project offshore Brazil.

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Peregrino Phase 2 platform offshore Brazil.
Source: Equinor

SLB has shared that the company successfully drilled 99% of a 2.6-km well section offshore Brazil for Equinor.

The operation was celebrated by the company for being the “most autonomous” well section it has drilled to date and for marking “a significant step toward fully autonomous drilling operations at Equinor's Brazilian Peregrino C platform.”

SLB was awarded a contract by Norway’s Equinor in 2019 for the total well delivery on the platform, which achieved first oil in 2022 after COVID-19 pandemic-related setbacks.

Equinor holds a 60% operating interest in the Peregrino heavy-oil field, which is its biggest project outside of Norway and is located approximately 85 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro. China’s Sinochem owns the remaining 40%.

The service company noted that its recent five-well program for Equinor saw a 60% increase in the rate of penetration (ROP), thanks to its interconnected autonomous software packages.

Drillpipe handling and equipment operations were controlled by SLB’s DrillPilot software, while another software, DrillOps, managed on-bottom drilling. Additionally, an autonomous software package named Neuro was used to design the well plan and make adjustments during drilling to ensure the target depth was reached.

Introduced in 2022, the Neuro software suite has been deployed globally and was outlined by the company last year in a case study with the Kuwait Oil Company (KOC).

In SPE 216690, authors from SLB and KOC listed the three main components of Neuro as automated surface controls for the drill floor, automated directional drilling, and automated downhole bit steering. The deployment for KOC resulted in a 92% increase in ROP above the field average within a 16-in. drilling section.

With the level of autonomy in drilling operations steadily rising, the paper’s authors stressed that the human workforce was not removed from the process entirely.

“Instead, they shifted from direct control to supervisory roles, monitoring system performance, validating automated decisions, and intervening when necessary. This collaborative approach between humans and autonomous systems is central to maintaining control over the drilling process while reaping the benefits of automation,” they wrote.

For Further Reading

SPE 216690 Revolutionizing Drilling Efficiency With Neuro Autonomous Solutions: DrillOps Automate, DD Advisor, and AutoCurve Coupled With SLB Well Construction Rig and Blue BHA by M.N. Al-Mudhaf, A. Al-Herz, H. Abdel Hafiz, and A.A. Ahmad, Kuwait Oil Company; and K. Albannai, A. Chakchouk, and S. Gangopadhyay, SLB.