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Nabors drills first well from fully automated land rig

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Nabors’s PACE-R801, the first fully automated land drilling rig, reached total depth in its first well in the Permian Basin.

Nabors Industries announced its PACE-R801 – the world’s first fully automated land drilling rig – has reached total depth on its first well, a horizontal well for ExxonMobil in the Permian Basin.

Combining Nabors proprietary Smart Suite of automated drilling software with Canrig robotics on the PACE-R801 creates an unmanned rig floor that removes crews from red zone areas. Similar to concept vehicles in the automobile industry, this particular configuration of PACE-R801 is built to showcase Nabors technology. The featured automation, robotics and digitalization technologies are available and operational across the Nabors fleet, and those of third parties globally.

Insights gained from PACE-R801 have been and will continue to be used to innovate and advance the next generation of Nabors technologies which focus on safety, efficiency and the environment. For example, recently deployed technology for Nabors SmartDRILL and SmartSLIDE drilling automation software was developed through the PACE-R801 initiative.

Utilization of the full suite of Nabors drilling automation software – which includes SmartDRILL and SmartSLIDE – reduced drilling days for operators by four in the Permian and Williston Basins and has shown promise to reduce drilling emissions.

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, contracted the rig to drill three horizontal wells on a test pad in Midland County, Texas, as part of its own research and development efforts. This first well was drilled to a total measured depth of 19,917 ft. Consistent with the practices of drillers and operators on test pads, Nabors and ExxonMobil do not plan to publish performance data and results.

“ExxonMobil’s collaboration with Nabors in deploying this automated rig in Midland demonstrates the ability to optimize drilling using the combined power of robotics, automation, computing, and data. This is a great example of enhancing the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of our operations through innovative technologies,” said Jason Gahr, Operations Manager for Unconventional Drilling at ExxonMobil.

“There’s nothing else in the world like the PACE-R801 concept rig. Its combination of advanced automation, digitalization and robotics represents a trifecta solution for an industry pursuing the highest levels of safety, efficiency and environmental performance in order to attain ESG goals,” said Anthony Petrello, Chairman, President and CEO of Nabors. “Successfully drilling with the world’s first fully automated land drilling rig marks the culmination of a five-year engineering journey for Nabors. The experience and insights gained from this concept rig will be used to forge the next generation of Nabors technology and to continuously improve the digital, automation and robotics solutions we already have in the field.”

“Nabors is known as a technology leader and the PACE-R801 is an outcome of our commitment to innovating the future of energy. We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than ExxonMobil for this history making milestone. We share the same vision for safety, efficiency, sustainability, technology and innovation and want to thank ExxonMobil for their continued partnership,” said Travis Purvis, Senior Vice President, Global Drilling at Nabors.

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