Years of effort, knowledge, innovation, and process integration resulted in the first unmanned remote operation where the drilling services company completed the directional drilling contract without any physical presence of personnel on the rig. In addition, the company has successfully run these remote operations across multiple continents. An opportunity presented itself to the global drilling community to drill a well where it was deemed unsafe for human operations. Building on prior successes in remote operations, a relevant solution was provided that could be executed anywhere on the Earth remotely from any other location. The evolution of remote drilling operations began in 2009, the most significant result of which occurred in 2016 when for the first time, a well was drilled without any directional services staff even visiting the drilling rig. This operation was the result of more than 8 years of foundation work.
This paper will present three main concepts for any future efforts in this drilling area. Due to the need for maintaining the drilling company's strategic advantage, not all of the details will be explored. The process and procedures used to accomplish the remote operations will be summarized, followed by a brief update on the history of remote operations. Secondly, a description if remote operations in directional drilling, intercontinental remote operations, and unmanned directional drilling operations will be presented. Finally, tools and technologies to accomplish these goals will be summarized in a suitable manner for the industry to build on to take remote operations to the next level. The main goal of this paper will be to highlight what was achieved with current technology and predict the future of area of the industry. This paper will divulge many industry firsts; unmanned directional drilling jobs, unmanned logging-while-drilling (LWD) jobs, intercontinental remote operations, and finally, for the first time, operations where the service company never visited the rig.