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Managing drilling fluids is a complex task that requires proper management and technologies. With all the data that need to be collected and interpreted from the well site, operators need automation and remote technology that will keep everything organized and increase efficiency while cutting costs.

Schlumberger’s Drilling Fluids Advisor software “brings together the rig site, optimized processes and roles in town, and unprecedented collaboration with customers,” according to the company's website.

In the recent SPE "Tech Talks: Advancing Digital Performance with Drilling Fluids" webinar, Ethan Peterson, Schlumberger's digital product champion, explained how the Drilling Fluids Advisor is changing the management of drilling fluids by organizing the various tasks specialists need to complete, such as calculating and interpreting measurements.

“There’s a lot of interpretation and manual measurements that are going on during these situations that can vary a lot between drilling fluids specialists ... it becomes quite a task to manage all these things at once,” Peterson said. “As we start looking now at digital and automation, it really opens up the scope there to say what can we take off their plate, what can start standardizing, what we can we start doing to help them out, to ease their job and to make sure that we have the highest quality drilling fluid at all times on every project.”

Peterson said the software offers additional value when the data are brought back to the remote operations center and their experts—"who have drilled in that area" and "know these placed like the back of their hands"— can collaborate with drilling and measurements.

“We can start seeing this greater value coming from algorithms and the data correlation and processing and health monitoring that we just didn’t have before," he continued. Whereas before, he said, someone might question, "Should I be doing this move? Should I not be doing this move?’”

Drilling Fluids Advisor, drilling fluids software platforms
Digital product champion Ethan Peterson explained the benefits of Schlumberger's Drilling Fluids Advisor on SPE Live's Tech Talk webinar with moderator David Gibson. (Source: SPE Live)

Need for remote operations

According to Peterson, motivation to tackle the issue of managing drilling fluids more efficiently stemmed from client demand in the wake of COVID-19 shutdowns. The system would help reduce costs and safety by keeping fewer people on the work sites.

“With the onset of COVID and working from home, this not only became something where we could start reducing the cost at the well site by moving someone to town and even expanding the expertise of the people that we’re getting by moving it to town with our best drilling fluids specialist,” he said. “But it’s become a requirement for HSE in order to keep people off of the well site [and] keep people from having to travel back and forth to avoid the spread of COVID-19.”

Since employing the system, drilling fluids specialists have been increasingly able to grow their level of expertise in the field.

“The amount of problems and coaching that’s involved in some of these remote operations really enhances our ability to focus on things and learn and increase our knowledge base from some newer drilling fluids specialists or subject matter experts,” Peterson said. “It really enhances the ability of how experts look at everything at once because we’re human; sometimes things slip through, sometimes you don’t notice something, and this really fixes that. It allows you to be laser focused on a particular task because you’re going to be warned if something starts to head a little bit on specification or whatever that well needs.”

There are some things that people are able to pick up better than software, and Schlumberger is working to increase productivity of in-person drive-bys and 24/7 monitoring.

“If you have a drive-by person, that person will not be able to do the same things he would normally be able to do in person,” Peterson said. “But that’s when you can start bringing more value, so can you have more analysis on that drive-by job with people on a 24-hour basis. Now you’re monitoring it constantly and having people take a look at it for the same cost that you would get off of someone showing up at the well site for maybe four hours or less, depending on how many rigs he needs to hit that day.”