An advanced rig control system that was provided to a major international land drilling contractor streamlines the ergonomic tasks that are routinely performed by a driller. The system employs joystick controls from a specially designed console with touch-screen displays that eliminate conventional SCR and drawworks control panels. Signals are routed though industrial grade computers and robust programmable logic controllers (PLC) to integrate data and control to simplify the correct operation of the rig. An electronic automatic driller is used to optimize drill line payout with up to four selectable constraints chosen by the driller and/or drilling engineer.

Maintenance of the software can be achieved from a remote command station via a telephone or satellite connection. The PLC and user interface software code can be monitored and modified if necessary. Using a data logger that records and transmits PLC parameters, the system designers can verify that the driller is using the system as intended.

While this remote connectivity provides high system reliability, it can increase operating risk unless proper procedures are followed. This paper identifies the risk factors and recommends specific policies to mitigate these risks. Specific examples are cited where the software on a working rig was modified from a remote site.

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