Over the past decade, several models have been generated to predict Rate of Penetration (ROP) in real-time. In general, these models can be classified into two categories, model-driven (analytical models) and data-driven models (based on machine learning techniques), which is considered as cutting-edge technology in terms of predictive accuracy and minimal human interfering. Nevertheless, most existing machine learning models are mainly used for prediction, not optimization. The ROP ahead of the bit for a certain formation layer can be predicted with such methods, but the limitation of the applications of these techniques is to find an optimum set of operating parameters for the optimization of ROP. In this regard, two data-driven models for ROP prediction have been developed and thereafter have been merged into an optimizer model. The purpose of the optimization process is to seek the ideal combinations of drilling parameters that would lead to an improvement in the ROP in real-time for a given formation.

This paper is mainly focused on describing the process of development to create smart data-driven models (built on MATLAB software environment) for real-time rate of penetration prediction and optimization within a sufficient time span and without disturbing the drilling process, as it is typically required by a drill-off test. The used models here can be classified into two groups: two predictive models, Artificial Neural Network (ANN) and Random Forest (RF), in addition to one optimizer, namely genetic algorithm. The process started by developing, optimizing, and validation of the predictive models, which subsequently were linked to the genetic algorithm (GA) for real-time optimization. Automated optimization algorithms were integrated into the process of developing the productive models to improve the model efficiency and to reduce the errors.

In order to validate the functionalities of the developed ROP optimization model, two different cases were studied. For the first case, historical drilling data from different wells were used, and the results confirmed that for the three known controllable surface drilling parameters, weight on bit (WOB) has the highest impact on ROP, followed by flow rate (FR) and finally rotation per minute (RPM), which has the least impact. In the second case, a laboratory scaled drilling rig "CDC miniRig" was utilized to validate the developed model, during the validation only the previous named parameters were used. Several meters were drilled through sandstone cubes at different weights on bit, rotations per minute, and flow rates to develop the productive models; then the optimizer was activated to propose the optimal set of the used parameters, which likely maximize the ROP. The proposed parameters were implemented, and the results showed that ROP improved as expected.

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