Most US onshore shale operators work with extremely limited budgets to be profitable in a low margin, low oil price environment. There is a significant emphasis on footage drilled per day, with solutions like better well plans, drill bits, and innovative bottom-hole assemblies (BHA). However, the smaller activities that add up to achieve higher footage per day include weight to weight (W-W) and connection times. The traditional ways to measure these key performance indicators (KPIs) and identify operational inefficiencies are manual, time consuming and after-the-fact.

To increase the overall drilling performance even with proven BHAs, an operator in Marcellus Shale leveraged a web-based application using industry-standard wellsite information transfer standard markup language (WITSML) protocol for automatic real-time drilling performance KPI monitoring and advisory services to focus on standardizing and reducing the W-W time. Weight to Weight time was divided into weight to slip (W-S), slip to slip (S-S) or connection times, and slip to weight (S-W) times to analyze trends and practices during the drilling process. The study focused on average W-W time improvement, and operational consistency on two rigs while drilling 32 wells from seven pads.

During this continuous improvement process, the operator identified best crew performance using automated crew comparison KPIs and disseminated best practices among the crews. At the end of the study, one rig W-W goal attainment rate increased by 50%. The operator also worked with the rig contractor to shuffle the rig crews by including the competent personnel from the most-efficient rig crew to the less-efficient rig crew to accelerate the sharing of best practices. This approach led to a 19% improvement of average W-W time over the course of the drilling campaign, and improved overall drilling performance. The best well was used for benchmarking and updated throughout the drilling campaign for continuous improvement of drilling performance.

Digital technologies combined with existing proven downhole technologies can help identify operational inefficiencies. Operators that use remote operations centers for planning, execution and risk reduction can benefit from real-time monitoring of drilling KPIs by taking timely and proactive measures.

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