Improvements to safety on a drilling rig must cover all aspects of its operations. Safety awareness of the crew is clearly an important area, but careful set up of drilling equipment and monitoring of the operation is another. A computer system for real time monitoring of rig status, problem detection and controlling rig operations is described. This is the first step towards control, and then automation which will bring further safety and environmental benefits.

It is important for the driller to have the capability to follow activities on the rig to ensure that they are appropriate to current rig operations and consistent with safe conditions. A computer system can also help by being continuously vigilant, watching for the earliest signs of potentially catastrophic events, detecting them before they become critical and alerting the driller. This includes monitoring pressure and flow data to check for washouts that can result in a twist off, and checking flow rates and tank volumes for early kick detection. The system can also be used for post analysis of problems to help develop new procedures to avoid re-occurrence.

In this paper we briefly review the event detection capability of the system with intelligent alarms for washout and kick detection. Early kick detection reduces the problem of circulating out the kick, but it is still a hazardous procedure requiring close monitoring. A new display has beenintroduced to monitor kill procedures and has led to better control.

The operation and experience with this system in terms of safety benefits are discussed and illustrated with field examples. Finally we discuss the way forward and how such systems are currently being developed to include process control and automation for the rig of the future.

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