Digital technologies are changing the way we work and are empowering the world. The oilfield is no different. Directional drilling is no longer challenged by distance or harsh environments. One oilfield service company began an innovative digital approach to directional drilling and logging while drilling (LWD) over a decade ago. Recently, technology and infrastructure enabled the industry to drill directional wells without engineers physically at the wellsite and independent of technical complexity. Digitalization is a complicated task for any service company. It requires a complete change of all workflows and implementation of cutting-edge technologies to drive the change. The current infrastructure includes a worldwide network of digitally connected operation centers (DCOCs) that provide advanced services to ensure operations are delivered efficiently and can be easily implemented. Even in the case of unforeseen circumstances when field engineers cannot go physically to the wellsite, operations can continue normally with some management of the change. As a result, multiple locations are currently drilling various well types, including horizontal wells with zero or minimal personnel at the wellsite.
It is evident, with ongoing digitalization in many forward-thinking industries that eventually drilling will take the neccessary steps. This is understandable due to the cost and operational norms of the industry but applying the technology in an efficient and cost-effective manner will yield gains for even the most discerning high-volume markets and, at the same time, improving key performance indicators. Directional drilling digitalization is still not a widely accepted concept for drilling everywhere on the planet. Companies continue work with full crews on location in most operations. The conservative approach of delivering directional and LWD services with the engineering teams located at the wellsite was restricting operators, so complicated well profiles in many areas, including some areas in the Middle East, were avoided. This paper is intended to lift the veil of uncertainty from digital directional drilling and show what is possible today and in the future. This paper will highlight the history of digital directional drilling operations, measurable benefits, lessons learned, and what is done today, and finally focus on the next steps in the digital evolution of drilling. Several new enabling technologies, innovative processes, and analysis of results will be discussed in the context of this new way of working.