It is well recognized that oil and gas companies have increased the implementation of collaborative centers to improve real-time decision making. This reduces nonproductive time (NPT) and improves efficiency in oilfield operations. Emerging technologies now enable end users to receive and send intelligent commands while tools operate under downhole conditions. This not only provides the advantage of fewer trips in and out of the hole, but also the ability to control operations from an office-based environment.

In the last few years, Schlumberger has increased the number of collaborative centers, known as Operation Support Centers (OSC), to work closely with operators throughout the world. Surface and downhole data are currently transmitted to these centers in real-time as part of the execution phase in the drilling optimization process. While the focus of this paper is on drilling, real-time data is clearly not limited to the drilling phase and in many cases has been used for completion monitoring and control.

As the implementation of these centers has continued, drilling activity increased more quickly than experts could be developed in all areas of operation and support, despite aggressive recruiting and intense training and development. As a result, experts gathering in one room to advise jointly on several simultaneous rig operations became the norm and operators who experienced it quickly embraced the OSC concept.

Real-time 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. Interestingly, they have also become a focal point for better coordination of operational changes, as improved communication with tools downhole and with service personnel have facilitated reduced crew and support requirements.

This paper describes the challenges faced in implementing remote drilling operations, the work processes that allow one directional driller (DD) and one measurement while drilling (MWD) engineer to oversee several rigs simultaneously, and details the necessary infrastructure, communication systems and operating results.

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