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September/October

Land drillers usher in era of super-spec rigs

Operator demands for repeatability, predictability lead contractors to push ahead on horsepower pressure ratings, hookload and pipe-racing capacity while adding smart, data-analytic functions to control systems By Kelli Ainsworth Robinson, Associate Editor, and Katie Mazerov, Contributing Editor With the industry’s steady, albeit gradual, emergence from the dark days of the downturn, onshore drilling contractors are seeing rig counts rise and dayrates climb. Increasingly, drilling companies are deploying fleets of upgraded rigs to meet operators’ demands to achieve more reservoir contact with longer laterals from bigger pads. Today’s unconventional challenges are a far cry from those of less than a decade ago, when a single shale well might have a 1,000-ft lateral and a few stages. Back then, the talk was all about ...

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Modularity, scalability prioritized in automated pipe-handling systems as industry charts path to fully autonomous, hands-free drill floor

OEMs look to advanced algorithms, industrial robotics technologies from outside industries for next advances By Karen Boman, Associate Editor Although improved safety is still perceived as the primary benefit of today’s automated pipe-handling technologies, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) are moving to challenge the status quo. By looking to advanced algorithms and industrial robotics technologies, companies are developing new solutions that are taking drilling contractors closer to fully autonomous rig floor operations. The recognition is that automated operations equal consistent operations, which in turn equal predictable operations. That’s where additional efficiencies can be found. OEMs recognize that, at current rig dayrates, they can’t push out new technologies that will require costly rig modifications. Further, the diversity of rig designs in the marketplace ...

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Automation of directional drilling system with remote supervisory control allows mile-a-day wells to be achieved in Appalachian Basin

Robust digital network enables reliable, real-time data transfer, allows experts to guide geosteering of horizontal wells from off the rig By John Macpherson and Sheldon Knight, Baker Hughes, a GE Company; and John Dewardt, Dewardt & Company Drilling is a highly dynamic process. Interrelated wellsite systems; geologic conditions that can deviate from expectations; operational variables that require continual adjustments, such as weight-on-bit and rotating speed; and the time lag between near-bit sensors in the subsurface and drilling control systems at surface all make automating a drilling operation as challenging as automating space flight. But driven by the promise of improved efficiencies, higher-quality wellbores, economics and safety, the development and adoption of systems automation is accelerating within the industry. The next generation ...

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‘Vanished’ deepwater poses serious oil shortage threat

By Mike Killalea, Editor & Publisher “The offshore drilling market isn’t depressed. It’s vanished,” the longtime drilling contractor sourly observed, perhaps mentally scanning the expanse of nearly rigless seascape that is the Gulf of Mexico. In early August, only 17 rigs were running offshore in the GOM, according to the Baker Hughes Rig Count. By contrast, even the worst previous downturn, in 1992, saw at its mid-year nadir 27 rigs working offshore in the GOM. During the Golden Age of Drilling, in December 1981, 25 MODUs were drilling offshore rig-hating California, and 175 in the Gulf. Deep dive into deepwater econ But the long dry spell might be easing. A recent deep dive into deepwater economics by Paul Cheng, CFA at ...

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Industry/academia collaboration results in rapid development of intelligent, self-learning drilling app

NOVOS system allows UT grad students to easily incorporate complex algorithms into automation application By Claire Kennedy Platt, National Oilwell Varco, and Eric Van Oort, University of Texas at Austin Operators’ increasing demand for consistency with predictability and risk avoidance is enhancing the drilling industry’s need to automate. Continuous academic research can help the industry to meet this challenge, but presenting graduate-level research into the field can be difficult for universities, as finding an operator willing to implement an idea can take as long as five to six years. To shorten this process, collaboration within the industry will be required. This collaboration is now happening between National Oilwell Varco (NOV) and the University of Texas at Austin (UT). Relying on the ...

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Mexican president-elect expected to demonstrate pragmatism around energy reforms despite outspoken opposition, vow to ban fracturing

Campaign promises to fund social programs likely to force López Obrador to stay course By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor, and Karen Boman, Associate Editor Mexico’s newly elected president Andrés Manuel López Obrador – who has been an outspoken opponent of the country’s 2013 energy reform that ended PEMEX’s oil sector monopoly – made a statement at a press conference in early August that he will ban hydraulic fracturing in Mexico. “If such a ban was implemented and includes natural gas production, unconventional gas exploration will go by the wayside, and Mexico will either be forced to import more American gas or seek gas offshore,” said David Goldwyn, Chairman of the Energy Advisory Group and Non-Resident Senior Fellow with the Atlantic ...

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To effectively manage major hazard events, companies must routinely measure key barriers, look beyond corrective actions at the front lines

By Peter Bridle, Pegasus Risk Management The upstream industry must look beyond its traditional focus on personal injury metrics and retool toward a high-reliability organization (HRO) for effective major hazard event (MHE) management. Fact 1: The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) has repeatedly stated that although companies can work many years without a personal safety injury, this provides no guarantee that an MHE is any less likely. Fact 2: On the day that control of the Macondo well was lost in 2010, executives from both the operator and drilling contractor were on the drilling rig congratulating the crews on having worked seven years without a lost-time injury (LTI). Fact 3: Focusing on and reducing the number of minor injuries, such as ...

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2017 IADC ISP data show increases in lost-time incidents, recordables, fatalities amid rise in drilling activity

LTI rate up by 23.1% and recordables rate up by 17.4% over 2016 number; number of fatalities also escalates from 9 in 2016 to 10 in 2017 By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor The rapid rise in drilling activity in many sectors of the world is reflected in the newest safety numbers from the IADC Incident Statistics Program (ISP). In 2017, the drilling industry’s worldwide lost-time incidence (LTI) rate increased to 0.16 from 2016’s 0.13, which represents a 23.1% rise. The recordable incidence rate also went up, from 0.46 in 2016 to 0.54 in 2017, a 17.4% increase. The industry also lost ground with fatalities, with 10 fatal incidents reported in 2017 versus nine in 2016. Four fatalities each occurred in the ...

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Application of digital checklists helps KCA Deutag to drive culture of procedural compliance at rig site

Adoption of tablets, mobile devices was rolled across the rig fleet in late 2017 after iterative development process By Annejifke Andrew and Adebayo Aremu, KCA Deutag The industry strives to build a culture where everyone consistently adheres to defined procedures. It works to ensure that all procedures are clear, concise, correct and easy to understand, so that people think before they act. When a better way of doing a job is identified, the process is reviewed, vetted, documented and approved before any changes are made. Additionally, procedural discipline must be measured, recorded and reported in a simple and robust manner. The above words, paraphrased from the Well Control Institute, reflect what the drilling industry is trying to achieve on every shift, on ...

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BP, partners develop guidelines, scenarios for activation of diverter, EDS in deepwater operations

Joint effort with Seadrill, Maersk Training grew out of ‘complexity’ drills created to improve crew response to well control complications By Alex Parmenter, BP; Matias Machum, Seadrill; and Evelyn Baldwin, Maersk Training In deepwater drilling operations, the initial response to any well control event is critical because prompt and informed decision making is required to minimize escalation. Experience has shown that, in the face of an escalating well control scenario that requires the activation of the diverter and/or the emergency disconnect sequence (EDS), there is a risk that critical decisions may be delayed. Recognizing that rig crews need to respond quickly and that decisions about how to proceed need to be clear before an incident occurs, BP, Seadrill and Maersk Training ...

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