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Safe Influx achieves successful field trial of automated well control technology

Safe Influx has successfully completed the field trial of the world’s first automated well control system on the Weatherford land rig at Bridge of Don, Aberdeen. 

Safe Influx has developed a new technology that will improve the safety, environmental and cost performance of drilling. 

With funding support from Oil and Gas Technology Centre (OGTC), the “Drilling Module” was successfully implemented and proven in the field. The system was interfaced with a traditional land rig and performed automated well control: i.e. influx detection, spacing out, stopping of the mud pumps, stopping of the top drive and then shutting-in of the blow out preventer. This has never been achieved before.

Safe Influx performed a week’s worth of activities. These included:

  • Interfacing the Safe Influx automated well control system with the 40 year old land rig;
  • Commissioning the system to ensure correct interfacing;
  • Running the system to demonstrate functionality and training the driller;
  • Performing a series of system tests to demonstrate and prove up the functionality under different operational requirements;
  • Performing system demonstrations for the benefit of Lloyd’s Register inspectors. This will enable the existing Lloyds Register Technology Qualification Certificate to be extended to traditional land rigs;
  • Demonstrating the technology to the industry press; and
  • Demonstrating the technology to a cross section of over 30 industry VIPs, including operators, drilling contractors and well engineering companies.

Having proven this technology using real world equipment, Safe Influx is now planning to engage with operators and drilling contractors to perform extended field trials on modern cyber rigs and traditional rigs in operations in the North Sea.

“Safe Influx is delighted to bring automated well control to the industry,” Bryan Atchison, Co-founder and Managing Director at Safe Influx, said. “Our successful field trial demonstrated that automation can provide support to the driller, dramatically reducing our exposure to human factors.”

“The technology also provides a significant safety, time and cost advantage on day-to-day drilling operations, as influxes or kicks can be shut-in more quickly, thus resulting in much smaller shut-in volumes and therefore much more manageable well control incidents,” Mr Atchison added. “This technology is a tool for the driller, providing peace of mind for the drilling contractor, operator and regulator.”

“A key strategic focus of the Wells Solution Centre technology roadmap is centered on how automation can bring increased efficiency and reduce HSE exposure during the well delivery processes,” Malcolm Banks, Well Construction Solution Centre Manager at the OGTC, said. “The Safe Influx automated well control system has the potential for significant improvement on how high potential risk well control events are detected and responded to”.

“Support from the Oil & Gas Technology Centre has accelerated development of the technology (in partnership with Safe Influx and Transocean) with the demonstration at the Weatherford test facility giving us the first opportunity to access the capability of the system,” Mr Banks added. “This has provided the industry with clear evidence of the potential of the system and will hopefully inspire drilling contractors and operators to engage in further deployment on operational rigs, further demonstrating the capabilities and impact of the system.”

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