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Unconventional Yearbook 2018

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UGcenter.com | January 2018 | 65 DRILLING TECHNOLOGY | 2018 UNCONVENTIONAL YEARBOOK T he drive for wells with longer laterals in the U.S. and internationally efficiently drilled from mul- tiple-well pads has created a demand for high-horse- power, modern AC rigs that can minimize time between each well, according to an Aug. 17, 2017, report from Westwood Global Energy Group. Those ultra-long laterals are prime targets for automation, where being able to drill "gun barrel" wellbores makes well construction much easier. Energent, a Westwood Global Energy Group company, breaks down drilling and completion expenditures. The company takes information from 42 different resources. Todd Bush, Energent principal, estimated oil prices would be $58 by the end of 2018. "We capture 17 expenditure catego- ries on the drilling side, but I don't believe we're breaking out automation," he said. "It seems like automation is happening right now. Directional drilling seems to be one area we continue to hear is the first step in automation. The second step is getting to the point where operators are applying the data and models for drilling at the rig instead of at the office. "The next step change is being able to control the rig and bits and to understand basin-by-basin what needs to be done," he added. One example is a project underway in the Bak- ken with Nabors Industries Ltd. and a leading independent operator focused on automating the directional drilling decision-making workflow and the implementation of decisions at the rig. Nabors made a presentation on the project at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhi- bition in San Antonio in October 2017 that ref- erenced the project and the approach using the software system Rigwatch Navigator. "Nabors was basically presenting full automation from the desk to the rig, including controlling, steering and auto- correcting functionality that it is trialing in the Bakken," Bush explained. Nabors started in the Bakken because it feels like it has a good handle on the geology and best prac- tices, he said. "The company is working with the leading operator, and it basically has stated pub- licly, I think, that about 90% of the drilling instruc- tions produced by Navigator were validated by the driller. I haven't seen that level of automation from too many companies," he emphasized. Although that might be one of the more advanced efforts, other companies are also tack- ling automation. Many of those efforts are aimed at moving decision-making to the rigs, except for directional drilling, which is headed to consolidat- ing operations in a central location. What's driving drilling rig automation? "The drilling industry is continually striving to become more efficient and has made great progress over the last 10 to15 years," said Duane Cuku, vice president, sales, rig technology, Precision Drilling. "The first step was retooling the fleet with mod- ern AC rigs that are highly mobile and have very sophisticated control systems. Simply put, we built a bigger and better hammer. This, along with better drill bit and drilling fluid technology, has helped to significantly reduce overall drilling times. Since the Delivering Downhole Data to the Surface The uniqueness of each control system has inhibited large-scale automation projects because of the need to establish different communication protocols for each company. By Scott Weeden, Contributing Editor

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