Wired Drillpipe, Closed-Loop Automation Technology Drive Performance Improvement

Topics: Drilling automation
Photo courtesy of Hess
Drilling rig working in the Bakken

To accelerate learning, an operator deployed a real-time, closed-loop downhole automation system (DHAS) in conjunction with wired drillpipe in the 8¾-in.-hole section. The operator also used downhole memory tools in the 5⅞-in. lateral section to collect downhole drilling parameters and vibration data. The optimization process drew upon key elements from lean manufacturing concepts. It followed a “plan, do, check, adjust” (PDCA) loop, with the DHAS and the data provided by it affecting three concurrently moving performance-improvement cycles.


The operator selected the DHAS with 5-in. wired drillpipe because it was believed the real-time, high-speed data feed would accelerate the learning process. By making the downhole drilling environment visible in real time, the driller could apply this new understanding of the drilling environment to the automation system, to optimize drilling performance. It was also envisioned that the large amount of data available from the system would feed the PDCA cycle and result in lessons learned and performance improvements that could be implemented across the fleet. The idea was to instrument one rig and use the lessons learned to improve the performance of the entire fleet. The primary project goal was reducing cycle time while achieving a breakeven cost for the additional technology.

At the time, there was significant variability in cycle time as well as a significant difference between the best- and worst-performing rigs. To assess the rate of improvement and, thereby, the potential of the DHAS to improve drilling performance, the operator selected a lower-performance rig for the pilot test.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 178870, “Using Wired Drillpipe, High-Speed Downhole Data, and Closed-Loop Drilling-Automation Technology To Drive Performance Improvement Across Multiple Wells in the Bakken,” by Donald K. Trichel, SPE, and Matthew Isbell, SPE, Hess; Bruce Brown, BD Drilling Consultants; and Major Flash, SPE, Michael McRay, James Nieto, SPE, and Isaac Fonseca, National Oilwell Varco, prepared for the 2016 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, Fort Worth, Texas, USA, 1–3 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Wired Drillpipe, Closed-Loop Automation Technology Drive Performance Improvement

12 August 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 9