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‘Green’ innovations flourish amid drive for lower emissions

Peak shaving, energy storage systems already reducing offshore diesel use, while mobile wind units, fuel cells emerge as part of the next wave By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor The offshore drilling industry has long recognized the importance of environmental protection and the need to operate sustainably, but in recent years, it’s also come to prioritize decarbonization. As key players in the global transition to a net-zero economy, operators, contractors and service companies are all investing more and more in innovative technologies that can reduce greenhouse gas emissions from drilling operations, from hybrid rigs to floating wind turbines to the use of shore power.  A growing number of companies are also publicly cementing their commitment to the low-carbon transition by announcing ...

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Automation-enabled fuel efficiency leads onshore drilling ESG

Intelligent monitoring software combined with energy storage, alternative fuel options demonstrate high potential for cutting emissions By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor As the land drilling sector comes under increasing pressure from investors and the general public to demonstrate better ESG performance, operators and drilling contractors are stepping up in a multitude of ways. “We’re setting goals to show that we’re serious about reducing our emissions,” said Garrett Jackson, Vice President of ESG and EHS at Devon Energy. “It’s something that’s going to require a lot of effort and a bit of investment to reach some of these reduction levels, but it’s something we’re committed to doing.”  Devon, like many other large operators, has announced a goal to achieve net-zero greenhouse ...

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Industry seeks new ways to unlock data, drive optimization

More companies turning to AI-enabled and open-source platforms, both to gain insights from available data and to deploy those insights at scale By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor The drilling industry is now inundated with more real-time drilling data than ever before, collected through new and existing downhole and surface sensors. However, many organizations have been frustrated in their efforts to realize wide-scale benefits from this plethora of data in terms of improved performance, cost and time savings, often due to the difficulties in sorting and analyzing that data.  To help organizations accelerate the value generation from data, a host of new technologies and platforms have been developed in recent years focusing on real-time data management, remote operations and artificial intelligence ...

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Advances in simulators support industry’s shift to blended learning

As more companies look to virtual and hybrid well control training, industry works to improve software accuracy, expand their flexibility of use By Stephen Forrester, Contributor Drilling simulators have provided the oil and gas industry with a means of performing engaging, hands-on well control training for years. While many might associate “simulator” with immersive training with cyber chairs, other types of simulator-based training – both virtual and blended – have accelerated significantly, driven by both advancements in cloud computing and the challenges of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, companies recognize there remain critical advantages to in-person courses at large training centers. Better software with more accurate modeling, a greater amount of user choices and flexibility in course delivery ...

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Smart cloud-based tools take digital well planning to next level

New systems focus on freeing data from silos and providing real-time contextualization, visualization capabilities so data is instantly actionable By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor In a typical well planning cycle, an engineer will spend a significant portion of their time looking for the different types of data they need in order to do their jobs efficiently. Instead of being easily accessible in one location, these data tend to be locked away in silos – trajectories in one data platform, risk and hazards in another, well construction documents in another and so forth.  Locating the specific data needed can also be cumbersome due to access restrictions. For example, a company’s drilling engineers may not have access to the applications and systems ...

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Permian sees the start of a cautious recovery

Rig count and wells drilled are expected to rise this year, but return to pre-downturn activity won’t happen at current operator spending levels By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor Like all other US shale basins, activity in the Permian Basin took a significant blow last year amid the oil price crash. But things appear to be looking up, with the International Energy Agency estimating a 5.5 million bbl/day rebound in global oil demand this year and WTI staying above $50/bbl since 7 January. The scene appears set for a recovery in the Permian.  However, the length of the road back to pre-pandemic activity levels is still uncertain. Permian rig count had peaked at 418 the week of 13 March last year, ...

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Exploration boom in Guyana-Suriname: high dollar, high stakes

Giant-sized discoveries and low breakevens continue to fan enthusiasm for this South American basin despite recent disappointments By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor Just offshore the countries of Guyana and Suriname is a basin that has become the focal point of a major South American oil boom. With ExxonMobil making 18 discoveries in the Stabroek Block offshore Guyana since 2015 and Total making four discoveries at Block 58 offshore Suriname since January 2020, the area continues to generate significant attention from all stakeholders. For offshore drilling contractors specifically, anticipation is high that this emerging region could help to boost both near-term and long-term rig demand.  The Guyana-Suriname Basin currently has eight active rigs, up from five in 2020. ExxonMobil, the only operator ...

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Automated directional drilling gaining trust among industry users

Innovations in software continue to enable better predictive capabilities, helping operators achieve repeatability and consistency in their wellbores By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor Unpredictable directional drilling performance can have a significant detriment on a drilling operation, leading to higher costs and potentially missed production. While many directional drillers perform at a high level, the practice of accurately predicting drill bit positioning and trajectory is difficult to master, and the human element means that failure is always a possibility. To address these issues, the industry has increasingly looked to automation of directional drilling. Repeatability and consistency are recognized as the bedrock of the value around these automated systems.  “Drilling a record one day and then falling behind your expected days on ...

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Better understanding of data, physics key to BHA optimization

Companies realizing that a more holistic approach may be needed to enable precise directional control while optimizing ROP By Stephen Forrester, Contributor In an industry that continues to face financial headwinds, it is more important than ever that drilling is a cost-effective endeavor. Solutions over the past decade have achieved some success in the cost per foot of drilling, but those solutions have often focused on optimizing individual items within a given bottomhole assembly (BHA) – for example, implementing a more powerful motor or a more precise rotary steerable system (RSS). Although such pieces of equipment and technology, when incorporated individually into a BHA, can improve some performance metrics, the current market environment demands more holistic BHA optimization to achieve better ...

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Are electrically powered fleets the future of fracking?

E-frac systems tout emissions reductions and lower costs over time, but higher upfront capital requirements and lead times remain barriers By Stephen Whitfield, Associate Editor As the shale completions industry navigates the current economic and ESG landscape, it continues to be challenged by two significant and growing requirements: to find new cost efficiencies and to reduce its carbon footprint. While there is no magic bullet for either of these challenges, electrically powered hydraulic fracturing (e-frac) fleets are shaping up to be one solution in the toolbox.  Currently, e-fracs make up only around 10% of the overall US frac market, according to Matthew Moncla, Chief Operating Officer at US Well Services. He estimates there are just 12-13 such fleets currently running in ...

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