After drilling in the Gulf area of Middle East for approximately nine months, the operation’s project team struggled to find a consistent and repeatable roadmap for significant rate of penetration (ROP) improvements. The team was relying on the driller to manually control the ROP, weight on bit (WOB), differential pressure, pump pressure, and torque. Regardless of the driller’s experience, it is difficult for a single person to successfully monitor and adjust for multiple and continuously changing variables in real time.

Extreme variation and lack of control on drilling parameters (such as WOB, torque, and differential pressure) prevented repeatable ROP improvements, despite having a sound drilling plan. To solve this problem, the team tasked a third party to 1) deploy its electronic drilling recorder (EDR) to improve data quality, 2) integrate its multi-parameter DAS™ system into the rig’s programmable logic controls (PLC) system, and 3) deploy drilling optimization software solutions in real time. The overall objective was to build a decision-supporting tool to overcome the main ROP limiters through proper identification and mitigation, thus yielding higher ROP and creating newly optimized drilling parameters for future wells.

A pilot program consisting of two rigs and six wells per rig (12 wells in total) was executed utilizing this new approach. Over each section of each well, the team followed a traditional continuous improvement cycle of "Identify– Plan – Execute – Review". The EDR was able to accurately identify and record the drilling control limits (such as for ROP, WOB, torque, or differential pressure). The DAS system was also able to demonstrate improved control of WOB, ROP and, torque limits, and target differential pressures. Delivering this information in real time encouraged conversations around modifications to the existing well plan. During post-well analysis, the data allowed the optimization team to clearly identify the limiter of each hole section for changes in future well planning.

A flexible dashboard platform was utilized to assist the optimization team by developing enhanced graphics to improve the visibility and accuracy of the real-time performance monitoring. These dashboards target critical operations and allow more data to be taken into consideration, thus providing a more holistic and structured decision-making process. The pilot program showed measurable improvement in several areas. Overall, on-bottom ROP improved by 10.5%, shoe track drill-out times were reduced by 31%, and physical inspections showed significant reductions in bit wear. Additionally, the higher quality of data recording contributed to a noticeable improvement on processing multiple data-analytics modules.

This paper describes the challenges and step-by-step chronology of solutions deployed to achieve continuous improvement and to maximize ROP by effectively focusing on process execution. The knowledge required to execute a fit-for-purpose drilling optimization plan was the objective to the solution described in this work. This paper also provides a holistic view of the entire drilling system, along with insight into drilling parameters that can improve efficiency from planning to the execution phase.

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