Prior to the global oil industry downturn, shale oil’s record output had been rewriting the U.S. production story, with “phenomenal” and “revolutionary” being common descriptions of the boom. Although the bust is a dark one, shale’s appeal is too powerful to go away. However, since higher drilling and fracturing costs make shale oil extraction more expensive than conventional drilling, operators are looking for innovative techniques to save time and money.

Among the time/cost savings technologies available, a software platform is redefining how drilling engineers make real-time decisions. Already used by major oil companies and independents, its focus is on how to derive better insights from data quicker than ever in real time.

Actionable data anywhere/anytime
Moblize’s All-in-One platform means that drilling engineers can now complete the entire well planning, construction and performance analysis process in one location on any web-enabled platform such as an iPhone or tablet in less than 1 hr compared to more traditional methods, which could require weeks. The software’s functionality is especially applicable to shale drilling, which essentially is a factory drilling model with substantial repetitive analysis, so tracking rig and crew performance is extremely beneficial.

The platform itself does the aggregating and data preparation automatically so that the engineer can derive insights and make smart decisions instantly. There are no outliers to filter out of the data and no endless hours expended in building calculations, visualizations and analytics because the software builds the entire back end for the user.

Immediately actionable insights
Platform development was primarily based on ensuring that the software was user-centric, i.e., highly intuitive, with complexity built into the information, not in the displays, by exploiting machine learning. During the shale boom, engineers were drilling to the kickoff point with sub-24-hr curves, which involves a large number of connections within each well. Given those connections and repetitive rig crew activities, making even small changes on each connection based on insights derived from data adds up to substantial value for the drilling engineer and the company.

Drilling engineers using the platform have found the collaboration capability very useful such that drillsite and office personnel can jointly make quick decisions. This solution overrides a common industry problem of engineers working only a few hundred yards apart yet unable to share valuable knowledge.

Quality decisions generated by the platform are significant from a cost savings standpoint—a minimum of $20,000 to $60,000 per well by avoiding an unnecessary trip. Savings increase to $100,000 per well by acting on 20% deviations from best composite ROP in real time by alerts from the 24/7 monitoring team. Bit runs can be extended by 164 m to 305 m (500 ft to 1,000 ft) for savings of up to $50,000 per well.

Additionally, by using auto-captured pickup/stackoff readings on trips to compare hook loads to models, $100,000 can be saved per well; this has multiple impacts, including avoiding stuck pipe and landing casing off bottom. And areas can be easily targeted for improvement without incurring engineering time engaged in data preparation; this typically saves upward of $50,000 on each well.

Field application
Many oil and gas companies have developed a strong commitment to exploiting data analytics solutions for producing hydrocarbons in shale’s post-boom environment, including acquiring and applying the best technologies available.

During the bust in shale activity within the continental U.S., one company’s receptiveness to redefine drilling-related methods to further reduce costs created an ideal combination with Moblize’s real-time data analytics platform for immediate drilling engineer decisions. Decision-making with this platform includes the uniqueness of having historical data and real-time data in one place with intelligent algorithms guiding human actions.

Therefore, the drilling engineers can analyze an active well against historical wells on the fly to instantly apply learnings to the current drilling operation without spending excessive time or relying on guesswork.

The complex traditional well planning and construction process shrinks dramatically. In analyzing the data to decide on Moblize’s offering, managers saw that drilling engineers could begin with well planning and quickly move to use prepared historical data, analyze it and spud the well in a single day as contrasted with a typical completion time of weeks.

This greatly condensed time frame eliminates multiple problems, including handling data in different repositories; Microsoft Excel workbook challenges; and limited insight accuracy, which usually produces costly guesswork, deficiencies and learning gaps.

Additionally, the operator could realize significant savings by gaining tighter control over company data, achieving improved productivity, avoiding costly errors, expediting the business process and opening the door to greatly improved strategic planning. These attributes made it possible for this operator to initially use real-time offset analysis capability to extend vertical bit runs and improve drilling performance with plans to exploit the software platform for even broader impact on drilling operations in the future.

An engineer at another major oil company said the software platform allows him to make faster, smarter decisions to drill wells quicker, more efficiently and more productively. “It’s a single source of truth,” he said. “Everything’s only two clicks away.” That contrasts with the common approach of requiring one tool for visualization, one for well planning, another for analytics and yet another for optimization. In drilling dynamics, all of the tools are in one place.

And the reason all these tools come together is that the platform was built on direct input from drilling engineers rather than IT thinking in a vacuum. The sole purpose of the software platform is not to fill computer screens with complexities but instead to make the enterprise user’s rig life simpler by enabling new, improved workflows that translate into a savings scenario welcomed by independents and majors alike.