This paper presents a case history of drilling automation system pilot deployment, inclusive of wired drill pipe on an Arctic drilling operation. This builds on the body of work that BP (the operator) previously presented in 2017 related to the deployment of an alternate drilling automation system. The focus will be on the challenges and lessons learned during this deployment over a series of development wells.
Two major aspects of technology were introduced during this pilot, the first being a drilling automation software platform that allowed secure access to the rig's drilling control system. This platform hosts applications that interpret the activity on the rig and issue control setpoints to drive the operation of the rig's top drive, mud pumps, auto driller, drawworks, and slips. The second component introduced was a wired drill string, which provides access to high speed delivery of downhole data from a series of distributed downhole sensors, providing an opportunity to improve both automated control and real-time interpretation of downhole phenomena.
The project team identified several key performance indicators both at the project level and for each well. The project level key performance indicators (KPIs) were designed to give the operator an understanding of the reliability and robustness of the hardware and software components of the automation system. The KPIs for the well were designed to assess the impact of the technology on drilling efficiency through aspects of invisible lost time reduction (connection and survey times). The well level KPIs also fed into the project KPIs by capturing uptime, reliability, and repeatability of the hardware and software components of the system.
The paper describes several specific examples of where the benefits of the technology were realized as related to the KPIs above and describes some of the technical challenges encountered and fixes employed during the pilot campaign.
The paper also gives an insight into some of the non-technical challenges related to deployment of this system, around human behavioral characteristics. It discusses how focused collaboration and communication from all the stakeholders was managed and directed towards a successful deployment.
The work delivered on this project incorporates several technological innovations that were deployed for the first time on an active drilling operation. Delivery of these were important milestones for both the operator and the automation technology provider as part of their collaboration to increase the capability and reliability of these systems. The operator believes that this effort is key to allowing its drilling operations to realize longer term and sustainable benefits from automation.