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In May NOV and Schlumberger announced their joint aim to bring automated drilling to oil and gas operators and drilling contractors faster through the integration of their cloud-based drilling technologies. The companies have been working on the foundations of this collaboration for some time, with the belief that rapidly accelerating the adoption of drilling automation technologies will enable rig crews to focus on the big picture of driving superior well construction performance.

The joint automated systems will aid the acceleration of customers’ adoption of advanced digital solutions by taking away the barriers of complexity involved when integrating disparate systems.

The collaboration integrates two cloud solutions: NOV’s NOVOS process automation platform and Schlumberger’s DrillOps on-target well delivery technology. The NOVOS open platform automates repetitive drilling activities, which benefits contractors by enabling drillers to focus on consistent process execution and safety, and it benefits operators by enabling service companies to optimize drilling programs.

The DrillOps system includes open and modular technologies that leverage deep drilling domain knowledge from Schlumberger, enhanced by artificial intelligence (AI), to execute digital drilling plans consistently and automate drilling tasks with higher levels of efficiency.

The integrated technology will leverage NOV’s drilling process control with advanced AI from Schlumberger. At a basic level, the collaboration begins with NOV providing machine and process automation to the driller and, in turn, provides a means of access for the on-target well delivery system from Schlumberger to drive the process-automated NOVOS drilling system. The two tools will work as one to manage compliance to procedure and are designed to enable customers to reach best-in-class operational performance.

Automation is accelerating rig performance improvement

By removing technical barriers between planning and execution, the NOV/Schlumberger technology streamlines the deployment process of an integrated automated drilling solution.

Automation is one of the many functions orchestrated by the on-target well delivery system and is delivered by DrillOps Automate. When this system is activated, machines handle more complex tasks and manage less predictable operating conditions by using AI to deploy a level of autonomy in workflows and subprocesses. This is what we call smart decision-making. With multiple decisions needed to be taken quickly at the well site, drilling is the perfect showcase for it.

The technology places AI close to the action, where it can encode knowledge and capture learnings from historical information; it uses data from wells that were drilled before. By using the learning from previous experience, adjustments to optimize performance are made to every well drilled. Rather than relying on a human memory and individual interpretation, machine learning ensures vital information is remembered and applied in a never-ending virtuous cycle. Human operators are freed to focus on higher-level tasks, which in turn, enhances the efficiency of people as well.

Lower well costs can be achieved through the combined features of the NOVOS system and DrillOps system, including optimized ROP, automated mitigation of downhole dysfunctions, efficient pre- and post-drilling connections, dynamic envelope protection with automated surge and swab calculations, and efficient surveys and friction tests.

Autonomy is making rigs safer

In most industries as technology comes along, jobs change; technology creates different jobs and people are needed to do different things. Digital transformation and automation mean that many of the jobs that were once performed on the rig by people are now performed by people working from home or from the office. Jobs are moving from high-risk locations to low-risk locations. Operators can automatically plan and build wells—wells that are drilled faster, more consistently and more efficiently—with less human intervention and that ultimately achieve autonomy. This is safer and more cost optimal, so the industry will be better for it.

Autonomy is the sure way for customers to reduce the risks in drilling, and lowering the number of people required on the rig vastly reduces the overall costs of operations. Currently, too much of total drilling costs is nonproductive time (NPT). A prominent value of automation is that it can reduce NPT and bring it down to a low single digit percentage of overall costs.

Breaking down barriers for rapid technology integration

For customers, the collaboration means barriers that constrained the adoption of performance-enhancing digital technology will be removed. Typically, there are four parties involved in well construction: the service company, the equipment supplier, the drilling contractor and the operator that owns the whole process. The relationships between them are complex and all parties have been looking for a better solution.

Enabling these parties to work better together was one of the most important aspects of the need Schlumberger and NOV recognized early on. One of the more complex things was to get the softwares they use to work together. It’s enabling a customer to say, “I want to use Schlumberger drilling automation on an NOV system’ and making that possible.” The companies are working toward rapid integration of systems that work, and they are easy to integrate and deliver the results and keep everyone on the same page.

From the perspective of Schlumberger, when its teams are working with a customer, that customer can immediately benefit from this technology if a NOVOS drilling automation system is already installed. If a NOVOS system needs to be added, mechanisms have been developed for the operator or drilling contractor to purchase and deploy a NOVOS system, depending on which model is best applied for the contractual setup for future drilling programs.

Industry collaborations

DrillOps Automate tells the system how to drill the best possible well related to the formation and producibility, while the NOVOS platform ensures operations are automated and running at optimal levels and in an efficient fashion. As a result, the integrated technologies provide access to an easy-to-use system that accelerates the adoption of digital drilling solutions.

Shared performance results can help move the industry toward collaborations that generate cutting-edge drilling solutions.                 

By integrating the Schlumberger and NOV downhole and surface automation applications, the companies are accelerating the automation of manual workflows, improving safety, decision-making, consistency and efficiency in drilling operations.