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Unconventional Yearbook 2018

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66 | January 2018 | 2018 UNCONVENTIONAL YEARBOOK | DRILLING TECHNOLOGY low-hanging fruit has been picked, the next step is to refi ne the repeatable tasks that a machine can do as well as the best driller but far more consistently. This step required additional software, which was only developed for the drilling industry in the last few years. "The interesting thing about automation is that as long as the rig has a sophisticated control system, the size or particular characteristics of the equip- ment don't matter since generally the same steps to drill a well are required regardless of depth and/ or lateral length," he continued. "Automation can make an impact from the surface to total depth." Katy Holst, vice president, technical services, Pat- terson-UTI, noted that each company has a differ- ent defi nition of automation depending on what it is focused on. Some people think automation is for specifi c sequences or processes. "I think what we're interested in is how we've been communicating with downhole tools and developing software that can execute consistent process decisions on the fl y to really maximize performance and—ultimately— to reduce wellbore tortuosity, improve overall well placement accuracy and continue to increase the slope of days vs. depth curves. Improvements in sur- vey management techniques will allow longer later- als, tighter well placement on pad sites and greater effi ciencies in hydrocarbon recovery," she said. Bret Barre, MWD technical director, MS Energy, a Patterson-UTI company, added, "I think for automation it is being able to drill the well better than we're doing right now. We can do it better if we can get enough data to drill the well more consistently. It is all contingent on the data we can get to the surface." "People are excited to see where tech- nology will take us in this area," added Holst. "It is a tremen- d o u s o p p o r t u n i t y , but it can be a chal- lenge. As different companies are trying to work together, we are having to establish different communication pro- tocols for each company. Patterson-UTI now has an advantage in its ability to collaborate with its subsidiaries to fast-track the develop- ment of the drilling automation process." Closed-loop drilling control With Patterson-UTI's recent acquisition of MS Energy Services, the company is in a unique posi- tion to collaborate with a directional services company to close the loop on directional drilling control, Holst said. "MS Energy has been working on develop- ing high-speed electromagnetic (EM) telemetry and software that more accurately surveys the wellbore in real time. The next steps in joint development may include inputting survey and environmental data into the rig control system and allowing the rig's controls to automatically steer the well," she continued. A driller on Precision Drilling's Rig 601 in the Permian Basin manipulates the settings of a pre- programmed automation routine. (Photo courtesy of Precision Drilling)

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