Drilling Management and Automation

Recently, while preparing to present a seminar on deepwater-well-construction optimization, I tried hard to find a word or a phrase that could be seen as “the secret” for a safe and optimized drilling performance. Something very simple that would summarize what must be done to achieve success in an activity that, besides being the most visible face of the oil industry, is also simultaneously the most vulnerable and criticized.

What I was trying to do was encapsulate what is a very complex task, the successful management of drilling operations, in just a few words. This proved to be a futile exercise. After many hours of trying, I ended up not succeeding in obtaining my catchphrase. On the other hand, that helped me a lot in obtaining the main message for the seminar. There are no quick fixes. The management of a large group of people operating very sophisticated equipment, under restricted conditions, and within a limited space is a mission filled with complexity. But it is our mission, and we should strive not only to succeed but also to improve our performance constantly. As I mentioned in my last article, a flawless operation is a result not only of good management but also of careful planning.

In the seminar, I ended up concentrating on a few points—before, during, and after the operation—that should be viewed as fundamental for the success of the job. In the planning phase, make sure that you are aware of all details involved in the operation and what the risks and possible contingencies are. Then, while executing the operation, be aware of all developments. Use your real-time data as an efficient tool to verify what is going well and what needs to be corrected and to predict what is coming. Finally, after concluding the operation, make sure to capture the lessons learned. This is at least as important as the planning process.

To emphasize the importance of using lessons learned, I would like to conclude with one of my favorite quotes, attributed to Peter Drucker, widely viewed as the inventor of modern management: “A manager is responsible for the application and performance of knowledge.”

This Month's Technical Papers

Design of an Automated Drilling-Prediction System

Management Strategies Optimize Drilling and Completion Operations

Integrated-Technology Approach Enables Successful Prospect Evaluations in Malaysia

Real-Time Analysis for Remote Operations Centers

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 163302 Intelligent Real-Time Drilling-Operations Classification Using Trend Analysis of Drilling-Rig Sensors by A. Arnaout, TDE Thonhauser Data Engineering, et al.

SPE/IADC 163510 Advanced Dynamic Training Simulator for Drilling and Related Experience From Training of Drilling Teams With Focus on Realistic Downhole Feedback by Sven Inge Ødegård, eDrilling Solutions, et al.

SPE 163489 Operational Control and Managing Change: The Integration of Nontechnical Skills With Workplace Procedures by J.L Thorogood, Drilling Global Consultant LLP, et al.

SPE/IADC 163515 Advances in Real-Time Event Detection While Drilling by R. Wong, Schlumberger, et al.

J.C. Cunha, SPE, is drilling manager for Ecopetrol America in Houston. Previously, he was the well-operations manager for Petrobras America. A former associate professor of petroleum engineering at the University of Alberta, Canada, Cunha has served on several SPE committees and is currently chairman of the SPE Technical Communities Coordinating Committee. He holds a civil engineering degree from Juiz de Fora Federal University, Brazil; an MS degree from Ouro Preto University, Brazil; and a PhD degree from The University of Tulsa, the latter two in petroleum engineering. Cunha has authored many technical articles, including more than 30 SPE papers, and has coauthored two recently published SPE books, Advanced Drilling and Well Technology and Fundamentals of Drilling Engineering. He was a 2010–11 SPE Distinguished Lecturer.

Drilling Management and Automation

J.C. Cunha, SPE, is drilling manager for Ecopetrol America in Houston.

01 September 2013

Volume: 65 | Issue: 9

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