Automated systems are common in many industries, but remain a challenge for the drilling industry. Wellbores are drilled using an ad-hoc collection of equipment and services that are assumed to work together.
Standards for oil-industry information exchange have existed for many years but they are, in many cases, inadequate to convey the detail required for automation of complex processes such as real-time drilling control. Advances in information and communications technology have enabled other industries to implement new work processes and data flows, connecting disparate systems from multiple vendors in a safe, secure and reliable manner. Autonomous automobiles and aircraft are now a reality. Coiled tubing brings the potential for true real-time control of downhole equipment; however, it must function as part of an integrated system that includes surface equipment and sensors from a number of suppliers working in conjunction with the technical applications for directional well control and reservoir navigation.
In order to be widely adopted, integration solutions must be simple to implement and easily deployable – essentially an oil industry "plug-and-play" capability. History offers examples of previous oil industry standards that were over-engineered and too complex for simple and reliable implementation. Automation-enabling technology exists today, but oil industry-specific work must be undertaken to drive the adoption and implementation of these technologies in a fit-for-purpose manner. The focus must be to bring together the oilfield standards organizations to facilitate the definition and use of standards that will drive interoperability and automation.