This paper will detail how autonomous routing systems can make the transfer of drilling fluids faster, safer and more efficient than contemporary drilling fluid processing plants. It will use real-time data to show the benefit to drilling efficiency on three Maersk Xle Jack-Ups, while examining the potential for HSE improvements and cost savings gained through the increased safety measures inherent to the system.

Drilling fluid processing plants typically contain a large number of interconnected tanks, pipes, valves and pumps. These systems have very flexible routing possibilities for the chemical additives and drilling fluids within a limited footprint. However, they are vulnerable to accidental routing and mixing of chemicals due to a high degree of human involvement. Manual/remote manual systems are prone to human errors resulting in contaminations (e.g. mixture of oil based mud and water based mud), spillages, drilling down-time, and possibly well control incidents.

An autonomous routing system has been successfully deployed on three new and highly automated jackups. The system has been used on Maersk Intrepid with uninterrupted service since August 2014 and they have not experienced any spills due to wrong lineups. It has been used during all operations, on multiple wells and sections. From experience spills are an area of high focus during start-ups. On new builds, the crew needs to familiarize themselves with the new mud system and face a steep challenge to oversee a new piping/system; consequently drilling fluids could be routed incorrectly. The ability to line up several operations simultaneously has greatly improved efficiency and has shortened the learning curve for the crew during startup.

The routing system DORS acts similarly to a car navigation system in that it utilizes knowledge about the plant and real time data to find the most optimum route. In addition, it operates equipment automatically and reacts adaptively to changing conditions such as equipment failure(s). It supports simultaneous operations, always ensuring that no contamination occurs.

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