As part of the digital transformation, the oil and gas sector should move beyond the traditional way of drilling, towards utilizing new and more efficient technologies. The objective of this paper is to show how a digital twin based on the virtual model of a drilling well can be used to optimize the operation and improve operational performance.

Utilizing digital twins in drilling is a more advanced and cost-effective method to plan, monitor and operate well construction than the traditional method. A Digital twin in drilling is to use advanced down hole data and advanced modeling of the physical drilling system based on thermo-hydraulic and mechanical models during the lifecycle of well construction. It provides several benefits to the operation and improves drilling performance. Various drilling models interact during the whole drilling life cycle. During operations, real-time data from wells are used in combination with modeled data from a digital twin. This can realize early detection of anomalies and offer early diagnostic messages to avoid problems before they fully develop. It helps to reduce non-productive time and increase safety.

The Digital Twin technology can be used during the whole drilling operation. Several drilling case studies will be presented using the digital twin to provide real-time ECD control during tripping in and out of the well, as well as back-reaming procedure on some oil fields. Automatic pickup hook load roadmap plotting including; lift, slack and rotation off bottom (ROB), for some oilfields are discussed. The results of the simulation are presented in both 2D and 3D visualization format. By using the digital twin, challenges and risks during the operation have been identified. Automated diagnostic alarms have detected and prevented hazardous incidents ahead of the time.

Digital Twin technology will play an important role in the automation process of drilling. The technology will provide automatic quality control and calibration of drilling data, automated forward looking, automated diagnostics and decision support and eventually automatic optimization of the drilling process in real-time. This will be achieved by linking the Digital Twin to the rig control system.

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