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The great drilling automation debate


SPE arranged a workshop with roughly 80 participants discussing several topics concerning drilling automation, 19-20 April in Houston, Texas, USA.

Eric Cayeux, chief scientist at IRIS, attended the workshop and presented  the design principles and results from the use of Drilltronics in the North Sea. The presentation raised a couple of interesting questions.

- Has this solution been used with back-pressure managed pressure drilling (MPD)?

Cayeux replied.  

- No, but our analysis is that in such a context, DrillTronics should protect the MPD control system by limiting the input commands if necessary, instead of directly protecting the borehole.

Another question was whether well control situations should be completely automated.

- The most important part is to have reliable kick-detection before thinking of automating the closing of the BOP and the circulation procedure, Cayeux answered.

Land rigs and unconventional wells were among the most discussed topics during the workshop. From that followed discussions concerning tripping speed and directional drilling with downhole motors. Also, there was significant consensus that there is a need for a data aggregation server with real time capabilities and options to control drilling machines.

Data quality was also a topic thoroughly debated at the workshop. Documenting the uncertainty of real-time data, time-stamping and latency was highlighted during this part of the workshop.  

eric cayeux
Eric Cayeux, chief scientist at IRIS. Photo: IRIS.  
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