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New process automation platform aims to pave path to drilling consistency, efficiency

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Demand for automated technology continues to grow throughout the industry despite the decline in oil price and reduction in capital spend across the board. Driven by sub-optimal industry conditions, operators are searching for faster, safer and more consistent wells, leaving drilling contractors the difficult task of optimizing their rigs. Contractors are faced with several challenges to compete in the current market: how to maintain operations with a shrinking workforce, how to enhance their existing fleet, and how to safely manage a multitude of third parties vying to optimize the control of their assets.

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Rig injury spurs collaborative development of elevator strap for pipe laydown operations

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The oil and gas industry has a history of collaboration between organizations, including operators, contractors, manufacturers and distributors, in efforts to continuously improve efficiency and safety. Incidents are often triggers that lead to this type of collaboration. This article highlights an example where an incident led to a drilling contractor, manufacturer and distributor to work together to design, produce and put in place a tool that will greatly reduce the chances of similar incidents reoccurring and, thus, improve safety on the job. The incident occurred in April on a Sidewinder Drilling rig in Oklahoma during a routine operation. It was 9:30 p.m., and the crews were pulling out of the hole and laying down drill pipe at the end of the well. The drill pipe elevators were fitted with a piece of rope approximately 3 ft in length for the purpose of tripping the elevators open. There were scattered thunderstorms at the time with gusty winds and occasional rain and hail. The rig is equipped with a top drive with a link tilt system and a hydraulic catwalk machine.

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A seismic shift in the subsurface

Technology developed by MicroSeismic Inc uses microseismic data to determine what proportion of the total stimulated reservoir (or rock) volume (SRV) has been propped and will likely be productive. It shows operators where the proppant went during fracturing. This microseismic-based discrete fracture network analysis shows SRV in red and productive SRV in blue/purple. The red areas are those that were fractured but have no proppant. The blue and purple sections are areas where fractures have been created and have proppant.

In the 15 or so years since the unconventional oil and gas boom began, the industry has learned that unlocking the secrets of the subsurface is the key to tapping additional resources. Operators now know that the complexity, heterogeneity and unpredictability of unconventional plays and tight oil and gas formations require a deeper characterization of the geology and an understanding of the effects of hydraulic fracturing on the rock. Today, models can provide a 3D view of the formation and simulate hydraulic fractures, with the capability of making real-time adjustments. They have become essential in designing completion strategies that enhance production. A pivotal piece of that process involves listening to the rock and detecting subsurface stress – microseismic monitoring.

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