For anyone involved in organizational changes, people development, optimization of work processes, and reduction in overall risk exposure at the rigsite, the ultimate goal is to develop automation where possible. Automation has been used for years in the car industry, and the oil industry is slowly adopting the potential of automated systems for the drilling environment, gradually integrating all associated processes or important downhole data in full range.

Baker Hughes, with strong support from Statoil, has since 1999 developed a remote operations model based on the Baker Expert Advisory Centre/Operations Network /BEACON) platform, starting with remote operations monitoring from an onshore operations centre. Subject matter experts were placed in the operations centre to process the data in real time, leading to significant changes in work processes both on- and offshore. New positions were developed and new shift plans were implemented. As new downhole tools were developed new service levels such as drilling optimization, ECD management and reservoir navigation services were introduced, all remotely from the operations centre requiring no additional personnel at rigsite, all made possible by rig connectivity, data transfer capabilities and proper work process delineation.

Tomorrow's solution will integrate all available surface and downhole data, and automated advisory systems will deliver advice based on a wider range of combined real-time data, as well as historical databases and best practice, empowering individual judgment and assumptions. This change will significantly contribute to improved operational performance as well as risk mitigation and reduced Health, safety and Environment (HS&E) exposure.

Drilling process automation is something the industry has been anticipating. This paper will discuss the automation potential with respect to remote operations ability, the required development of traditional field positions, collaboration models (e.g., operator/service provider/rig contractor), improved operational efficiency and expectations for operational cost reductions.

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