Given the recent advances in rig site communications and motor steering advisor software, directional drilling operations can now be directed by a directional driller in a remote operations center rather than at the rig site. This allows better utilization of expertise across multiple jobs, the ability to engage experts/specialists when needed, and closer collaboration with the operator.

This paper reflects the experience of transitioning through a series of steps from a traditional directional drilling operational model of two directional drillers working opposite shifts at the rig site to a reduced crew model. The key enablers allowing this operational change were: 1.) a software advisor and monitoring system that assisted the remote directional drillers in making steering decisions and monitoring the result of motor steering operations 2.) shifting the accountability for the physical aspects of the directional drilling workflow to the driller, such as picking up/laying down the bottom hole assembly and executing slides.

This study demonstrated that directional drillers can be effectively moved off the rig site without degradation in performance and without introducing additional safety risks as long as the proper enablement is in place. On an example job, the drilling crew used a reduced personnel model assisted by a directional advisor system to drill an S-shaped well approximately six days faster than the fastest previous offset well. The directional drilling process became transparent with continual evaluation of key performance indicators. A clear record of the intended operations was produced along with a comparison of the actual executed operations and the results achieved.

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