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Small signs hint at possible recovery in still-sluggish North Sea

The ENSCO 120 jackup is scheduled to begin a three-year drilling program in the North Sea in July. It was the first rig equipped with Ensco’s Canti-Leverage Advantage system, which enhances the rig’s hoisting capacity at the farthest reaches of the cantilever when the rig is fully skidded out, leading to fewer rig moves on multiwell programs.

Although the North Sea drilling market is still quite a ways from what one might call healthy, small signs of recovery are starting to sprout. Several operators, for example, have publicly touted significant reductions in their breakeven costs for offshore projects – from Maersk Oil’s $40-45 range for pre-FID projects to Statoil’s $27 for pre-FID Norwegian Shelf projects...

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Fulfilling the need for speed: Drill bit designs drilling further, faster

The third iteration of Baker Hughes’ Kymera PDC roller cone hybrid drill bit has been given a sharper and more dense cutting structure to boost ROP and durability in hard carbonates and interbedded rock.

Modern drill bits have improved exponentially over the past several years, but operators continue to raise the bar in terms of expectations for more efficiency and durability. From horizontal wells in North American shales to Middle Eastern wells with 3,000- to 6,500-ft sections and even some deepwater wells using rotary steerable systems, operators now oftentimes expect to drill entire hole sections without tripping out for a new bit. “More than 60% of the sections drilled around the world today are already done with one bit, which means that the primary way to reduce customers’ drilling costs in those sections is to significantly increase ROP,” said Allen White, Product Champion at Smith Bits, a Schlumberger company.

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Deepwater leveling out but likely to stay flat through 2018

Statoil has used the Transocean Discoverer Americas drillship in deepwater exploration projects in East and North Africa and the Gulf of Mexico. Next year, Statoil plans to undertake deepwater exploration in Brazil, Eastern Canada and the Barents Sea. Photo Courtesy of Paul Joynson, Hicks AP, Statoil.

When oil prices began falling in 2014, the industry’s collective hope was that they wouldn’t stay down for long. However, the industry is now closing out its second full year in a massive downturn, and there’s not much good news on the horizon for offshore drillers. Over the past two years, many of their older assets have been retired – 10 drillships, 52 semis and 27 jackups since July 2014, according to IHS. But that hasn’t been enough. The offshore rig market is still out of balance.

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‘Permian Panic’ draws operators, boosts US onshore rig count

Scandrill’s Scan Vision rig is working for Anadarko in the Permian Basin. The 1,500-hp AC rig was recently upgraded and includes a multidirectional walking system for pad drilling that has a total lift capacity of 2.4 million lb. Scandrill plans to eventually update its whole fleet with AC kits. All of the company’s remaining SCR rigs have been fitted with 7,500-psi, 1,600-hp mud pumps.

Low oil prices may be leaving the global drilling industry cold, but right now the Permian Basin is red hot. It’s so hot that people are calling it the “Permian Panic” – companies are rushing to snap up acreage because it is considered the lowest-cost US tight oil play with the best producing rock in North America. “The Permian is the key of all the tight oil plays,” said Skip York, VP Integrated Energy at Wood Mackenzie. The firm estimates that approximately a quarter of global oil and gas mergers and acquisitions (M&A) this year have taken place in the Permian.

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Remote directional drilling sets roadmap to industrialization

Using Schlumberger’s drilling advisor service, drillers on Precision rigs receive real-time steering recommendations when drilling directional wells. So far, Precision Drilling has drilled two wells with this service, each with only one directional driller on the rig. For Precision’s turnkey operations, all directional driller expertise will eventually transition off site, with the driller following the instructions generated by the software and supported by the directional drillers in the remote operations center.

In 2014, Precision Drilling, Schlumberger and Pason Systems launched an initiative with the aim of industrializing unconventional drilling in North America. Specifically, the companies set out to transform directional drilling by increasing repeatable high-quality results while simultaneously reducing the manpower and time required to drill a well. This collaboration is now coming to fruition, resulting in a remote directional drilling service that uses Precision’s drilling rigs and Schlumberger’s abbl drilling operations adviser service.

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Troubled Brazil works to open pre-salt, ease regulatory restrictions

The Brava Star, QGOG Constellation’s ultra-deepwater drillship, can drill in waters as deep as 12,000 ft. The rig was delivered from Samsung Heavy Industries in 2015.

As of July, Petrobras had 39 floating rigs on contract in Brazil. That compares with 60 at the beginning of 2015 and 42 at the end of that year, according to Rudimar Lorenzatto, E&P Executive Manager for the Brazilian national oil company. Despite this fall in activity, Petrobras remains heavily focused on the pre-salt. Of the 60 wells planned for 2016 and another 60 planned for 2017, 60% are expected to be in the pre-salt areas. “Pre-salt is the main focus in the future for Petrobras’ business plans,” Mr Lorenzatto said.

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