2019Drilling Rigs & AutomationJanuary/February

Critical issues in drilling & completions

Momentum continues to build for a digital transformation in drilling as leaders fully embrace data analytics for performance improvement

By Linda Hsieh, Editor & Publisher

The explosion around big data and data analytics in the drilling industry over the past few years has been phenomenal, and a long time coming. Perhaps it was driven by the downturn, or perhaps it was driven by the realization that this industry had fallen far behind and needed to catch up.

To our credit, there is incredible momentum within the drilling industry now for achieving closed-loop automated drilling, and for investing in data-driven solutions that incorporate the use of artificial intelligence, machine learning and even blockchain. Industry leaders are fully embracing the idea that change is not an option. If you don’t evolve, you will be left behind.

At Transocean, for example, the company’s investment in its performance dashboards and other data-centric initiatives have already begun to pay off and are making lasting impacts on the structural cost of drilling a well, said Roddie Mackenzie, Senior VP – Marketing, Innovation and Industry Relations for Transocean (Page 22).

“We’ve identified rigs with similar equipment installed by the same manufacturers and the same shipyards. However, the equipment is operating at different performance levels, and that’s simply because of inconsistencies in the way the equipment was set up,” Mr Mackenzie said. “Data analytics allows us to identify and recognize these inconsistencies… In many cases, we’ve seen enormous improvements in some key step measures, like tripping. And there’s still a lot more mileage that can be gained.”

At ConocoPhillips, work is ongoing around data exploration and minimizing the amount of time that individuals have to spend finding the data they need. “It’s been observed that 80% of the time on a project is spent trying to find data, then 20% doing analyses,” said Greg Leveille, Chief Technology Officer for ConocoPhillips (Page 18). “We want it to be the other way around. We should be spending 20% or less of our time on finding data, and then you get to spend 80% of your time figuring out the key insights.

Aside from automation and digital technologies, additional efficiency gains also remain to be made with better planning and logistics, which would help operators to maximize the capabilities of today’s ultra-sophisticated drilling rigs. “Operators are still just scratching the surface in terms of actualizing what dual-activity rigs can do,” said Leif Nelson, Chief Operational Officer and Senior VP for Seadrill (Page 32). “They are starting to realize that dual-activity rigs are like factories, and they should use them that way. You have to feed them with equipment, and you have to think about planning and logistics. Sometimes they may have to bring certain things to the rig site in advance of what they have done historically, so that we can maximize use of the equipment and drive down the critical path. We’ve come a long way already, but there’s still lots that can be done.”

No matter which methodology a company chooses, however, it’s clear that operators are seeking from their contractors more leadership and a laser focus on performance. “When everybody’s aligned around performance and when you engage an army of problem solvers, which is at the heart of the Lean model, you will see safety performance improve greatly,” said Richard Lynch, Senior VP Technology and Services at Hess Corp (Page 26). “You will see the number of defects come out of the system. You will see your delivery times improve. And at the end of the day, it improves the cost.”

Read on for our Q&A’s with industry leaders about today’s critical challenges and how they’re being addressed. DC

About the author

Linda Hsieh is a graduate of the journalism program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also completed the Business Foundations program at the U.T. McCombs School of Business and minored in Asian Studies. She has been writing for Drilling Contractor since 2005.


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