Abstract

As demand for sophisticated drilling technologies has grown rapidly in recent years, the implementation of collaborative centers to improve real-time decision making has become an increasingly attractive option. Emerging technologies now enable real-time transmission of data and voice communications to and from the most remote locations, making it possible to receive and send intelligent commands and respond rapidly to changing circumstances while drilling is in progress. With the proper use of these technologies, it is now possible for a single team of expert personnel to monitor and control multiple complex directional drilling operations from a single remote office.

In the last few years, Schlumberger has created a growing number of collaborative centers to work closely with operators throughout the world. Currently, surface and logging data are transmitted to these centers in real time as part of the drilling optimization process, and real-time data has also been used for completion monitoring and control.

Coinciding with the development of the Operations Support Centers (OSCTM) concept, drilling activity increased more quickly than experts could be developed in key areas of operation and support. In such a challenging business environment, the idea of having experts gathered in one room to advise jointly on several simultaneous rig operations has won wide acceptance with the companies which have tried it.

Operations centers, therefore, have become the chief venue for collaboration, data capture, sharing and training, in a way that better meets the needs of fast-growing operations. In particular, the OSCTM concept has made it possible in many cases to reduce crew and support requirements, a significant benefit in today's tightly budgeted operations.

This paper describes the challenges faced in implementing a further step in operations support center, the work process that allows one directional driller and one measurement-while-drilling engineer to control directional drilling operations at several rigs simultaneously, and details the necessary infrastructure, communication systems and operating results. It also provides an insight into the process through a recent project in northern Mexico.

Introduction

The use of real-time, remote operating centers has become an increasingly attractive option for companies attempting to meet the growing demand for drilling services with a limited pool of expert personnel.

As rig counts have risen sharply, so has the complexity of drilling projects and the challenges of downhole environments, requiring not only new drilling technologies but also the services of personnel with the requisite training and experience to operate them effectively. Directional drillers and measurement while drilling (MWD) engineers have been stretched to the limit of their capabilities, often putting in very long hours, and still the demand for their services exceeds the supply.

This paper will discuss the implementation and operation of a highly sophisticated remote operation support center. From one central location, a single team of expert drilling professionals are able not only to monitor but actually to control complex directional drilling operations at multiple remote locations. With instant access to all relevant surface and downhole data, these seasoned professionals are able to direct the drillers and crew at several locations simultaneously.

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