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2015

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

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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Software change management on modern drilling rigs must go beyond ‘checking the box’

As an industry, managing software has long been a peripheral concern in rig operations. However, as new rigs with increasingly complex control systems are delivered, effective software change management is critical in avoiding downtime. Software is ubiquitous on modern rigs, controlling everything from dynamic positioning to ram activation and drilling automation. Software regression, malware and cyber-attacks are critical issues that cause NPT and could lead to an LTI or an HSE incident.

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

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

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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Deepwater, high-pressure completion tubular maximizes combined-load capabilities

This article discusses a two-year comprehensive effort to design, test, manufacture and deploy a new high-pressure completion tubular for Chevron’s deepwater Gulf of Mexico operations. The major challenge was to design, test and manufacture a subsea completion string that would provide efficient hydraulics during the fracturing operations while ensuring mechanical and pressure integrity.

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PDC bit uses staggered cutter configuration to take energy from vibrations to drill ahead

Excessive vibration caused by unrestrained lateral forces in directional wells can wreak havoc on drilling operations. In addition to reducing ROP, directional control (i.e., steerability) and overall drilling efficiency, torsional vibration at the bottomhole assembly (BHA) is often pegged as the source of a number of costly issues, including broken cutters, dull bits, trips and even damaged formations. To address such vibration-related problems, Ulterra Drilling Technologies has developed CounterForce, a patent-pending technology with a cutter orientation design inspired by the machining industry. It features a staggered cutter configuration capable of improving mechanical specific energy by dampening vibration, reducing bit reactive torque and redirecting force back into the rock. The cutting structure features pairs of cutters with opposing side rakes (angles), which allows the bit to harness reactive forces from the formation to counter the lateral forces from the drillstring.

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