The control of a drill in realtime is demanding on the skills and experience of the drill operator and is variable across operating shifts because different operators have different levels of skill and experience. A mathematical model that could be shared by operators would eliminate this variability but few, if any, exist because of the mathematical difficulty and considerable expense of creating such a model in the first place and then of updating it as geology and hole depth and the type of drilling changes.

This paper describes and demonstrates a radically different approach and a solution to the problem by modelling the operating envelope of the drill operation as a multi-dimensional solid object so that the operating problem becomes a geometric problem of operating always as an interior point of the envelope. The beauty of this approach is that the model developers and maintainers do not need any mathematical knowledge or the ability to describe problems with algebraic or differential equations. The method is able to create models of high dimensionality using the original process variables only so is easily understood and accepted. It is well-placed for realtime exploitation of the increasing number of down-hole measurements. The geometric basis of the model makes the operating advice that it generates intrinsically safe. A realtime operator guidance model will be developed and shown during the presentation to show the concepts, mechanics and possibilities of the method.

The method is part of the overall technology known as Geometric Process Control (GPC) which is becoming well-established in downstream process industries and has already achieved success in problem-solving and offshore process improvement applications with several major North Sea operators. It has won awards for Innovation from EPSC, IChemE, IET and the CIA (Chemical Industries Association).

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