Drilling Management and Automation

If you look for the meaning of “automation,” you will find a definition such as “automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process, or system by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labor.” Another definition is “the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically.”

I prefer the second one, not only because there is no mention of any replacement of human labor, but also because it implicitly calls for human interaction. It is the “technique of making,” and we are the ones making. That is the reason this section is called Drilling Management and Automation. We are interested in the state of the art of automated tools that will help us manage our operations better, making them more efficient and safer. Right now, our industry is involved in the development of several automated tools and processes to improve the quality of drilling operations. Early kick detection, smart blowout-preventer activation, automated managed-pressure-drilling systems, intelligent wellbore steering/positioning, and seismic while drilling are some of the areas with remarkable developments in recent years.

These tools and systems are already allowing a much safer, more controlled, and more efficient operation. And the ability to position the wellbore in the ideal spot, a dream for engineers and geologists alike, is very close to becoming a reality. And this will be delivered with improved performance and operational safety, which is ultimately what drilling management is all about. Two years ago, at the SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition in San Antonio, Texas, while talking at the Subsurface Hydrocarbon Containment luncheon, I used the expression “well control” and emphasized to the audience that I was not referring to operations performed when a well is kicking and has to be controlled. Instead, the intended meaning was related to a drilling operation in which the well is under control 100% of the time—no kicks, no wellbore collapses, no incidents. Sensible management and automated tools and systems can make this possible.

All of the selected articles for this month have good examples of improved performance through the use of automation; but, most important, they bring outstanding examples of our profession’s inventiveness and superb drilling-operations management. Enjoy.

This Month's Technical Papers

Automated Managed-Pressure Drilling Protects Caprock Integrity

Use of Dynamic Simulations To Prepare a Dual-Gradient-System Field Trial

Managed-Pressure Drilling With Solids-Free Fluid for Subsea Development Wells

Hydraulic Monitoring and Well-Control-Event Detection With Model-Based Analysis

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 163719 Information-Technology Infrastructure Architectures To Support Drilling Automation by Pradeep Annaiyappa, Canrig Drilling Technology.

SPE 166163 Successful Exploration Drilling in a Very Narrow Mud-Weight Window With Crossflow Using Automated Managed-Pressure Drilling: A Case History in Mexico East by J. Rodriguez, Pemex, et al.

SPE 167391 Smart Collaboration for Decision Making in Drilling by R. Fjellheim, Computas.

SPE 164365 Filling the Experience Gap in the Drilling-Optimization Continuous-Improvement Cycle Through a Self-Learning Expert System by Cliff Kirby, Baker Hughes, et al.

J.C. Cunha, SPE, is drilling and completions technical training lead for Chevron Energy Technology Company. A former associate professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada, he holds a civil engineering degree from Juiz de Fora Federal University, Brazil, along with an MS degree from Ouro Preto University, Brazil, and a PhD degree from the University of Tulsa, both in petroleum engineering. Cunha was a 2010–11 SPE Distinguished Lecturer. He is a member of the JPT Editorial Committee and is an incoming SPE International Board of Directors member, 2014–17, as Technical Director of Management and Information.

Drilling Management and Automation

J.C. Cunha, SPE, Drilling and Completions Technical Training Lead, Chevron Energy Technology Company

01 September 2014

Volume: 66 | Issue: 9



Don't miss out on the latest technology delivered to your email weekly.  Sign up for the JPT newsletter.  If you are not logged in, you will receive a confirmation email that you will need to click on to confirm you want to receive the newsletter.