The purpose of the project is to develop the "Automated Offshore Drilling System" and to establish its basic design.

Since 1984, research. investigation work. design. fabrication, and field test have been executed to develop the "Automated Offshore Drilling System" by Japan Ocean Industries Associations (JOIA), jointly with Mitsui Engineering & Shipbuilding CO., Ltd.(MES), and other member companies under the auspices of the Ministry of Trade & Industries (MIT!).

Field tests of prototype mud pulse MWD and demonstration tests of 1/2 (one-second) scaled pipe handling systems including racking system, top drive system, draw works, Auto Roughneck, Pipe Handler, etc. had been completed successfully.


The oil & gas extraction from offshore fields has become one quarter(1/4) of the world product. This percentage is expected to increase, and the development targets of future offshore fields will move toward a harsher environmental area, i.e., deeper water and arctic areas.

On the other hand, "automation" is the demand of the times, in the industries and all human lives. however, the equipment and system on the drilling rigs seem to be far from automated. The major reason of the above is, the drilling operation strongly depends on experience and special skills of drilling crews. At the same time, a shortage of skilled drilling crews will become a critical issue.

The current low level of the day rates earned by offshore drilling rigs and the reduced level of drilling by oil companies, has reduced the R&D efforts. The oil companies and contractors are rather conservative, then the rigs with totally different drilling system such as National A10-32 are very few. Developments of robotic drill pipe handling unit such as Temco in Norway have not been succeeded.


To meet the demands of the times, MITI has been promoting the "Highly efficient offshore oil & gas drilling project", to develop an "Automated Offshore Drilling System", and entrust its practice to JOIA.

This project, started in 1984, has a goal aimed atthe 1989 fiscal year to establish the basic design of the "Automated Offshore Drilling System". The project committee has been organized by JOIA with 12 member companies in Japan, to discuss the R &D work.

The philosophy of this project is to develop the "Automated Offshore Drilling System" as an extension of the present concept, the system can be applied to any type of existing drilling rigs with small modifications to some extent.

Among many sub-systems to be automated, the following five have been selected for this project:

  • Central control &monitoring system

  • Real time measuring system (MWD)

  • Mud control system

  • Pipe handling system

  • Barge control system

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