While automation is already a big deal for the drilling part of a well construction, tubular running services like casing and tubing installation has been more or less neglected in this process. Reasons for that are that special equipment is required for tubular makeup which is usually brought to the rig only for one particular task. Integration is often difficult since no industry standard exists for this operation. Furthermore this equipment has become difficult to use requiring special training of the operators.

The tubular running process comprises the use of a tong to makeup and break out connections. Over the years many different tong types have been developed, from manual tongs to fully mechanized power tongs. All tongs comprise a torque/turn measuring system which needs to be installed on site. Adjustments need to be made in order to reflect the setup e.g. tong type, load cell range, turns counter resolution, etc. Mechanized tongs require even more equipment to be brought to the rig floor and connected to the tong. All that leads to longer rig up time, more floor space necessary on the rig floor, more personnel and potential sources of failure. The evaluation of the connection bears another risk. So far a human looked at the torque/turns graph and evaluated the connection. This required a certain resolution of the screen and a good understanding of the connection requirements.

A new system has been developed to address the challenges described above. The new generation of tongs is equipped with computers and additional sensors. The tongs do not require any additional equipment to be connected to it. The interfaces are reduced to the minimum, using industry standards like Ethernet, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. The makeup is now controlled by the system eliminating any operator-specific influences or other human factors and at the same time, simplifying the use of the equipment. Algorithms programmed according to pipe OEM specifications now evaluate the connection which eliminates subjective graphical interpretations.

This paper highlights the challenges of tubular running services and how this process can be automated in order to increase connection quality and reduce costs.

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