The continuous improvements in high-speed communications and information technology are transforming traditional drilling working practices. For some services such as data and LWD engineering, personnel no longer need to be physically present at the rig site. New technology guarantees their virtual presence. Instead, these positions can be moved onshore, adding to the overall team capability and efficiency. At the same time, this reduces the over all HSE exposure and offers further potential savings in bedspace and transportation costs. To effect this transition, each of people, process and technology challenges have had to be addressed. These concepts have been embodied in the "Baker Expert Advisory Center/Operations Network" (BEACON) system, established in Stavanger, Norway.
The paper describes the challenges faced in establishing the system and their solutions. Human factors are shown to play a crucial role in its successful implementation, demanding greater flexibility in onshore working practices to match those remaining offshore and to establish the virtual team. During the initial trial period, these factors, compounded by reliability and maintenance problems caused the system's operation to be suspended. Following a review, operations were restarted and two wells have now been successfully drilled in this operational mode. Improvement in the team's decision-making capability is evident and has been described as "increasing the team IQ". Improved access to the onshore centre, compared with offshore, is now shown to increase reliability and flexibility. Finally, the paper summarises the future work planned under the Norwegian Demo2000 sponsorship program, which will address the provision of these services in more formal terms.