Drillers are eager to look at evolving technologies and practices, both onshore and offshore, to deliver improved performance especially with today’s current market economics. The recent annual International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC)/Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Drilling Conference & Exhibition held in Fort Worth, TX, focused on technical challenges and management processes designed to optimize drilling performance. Aramco supports both SPE and IADC and joined this year’s discussions by presenting a technical paper and moderating the Unconventional Drilling session.
Integrating People with Automation
A unique aspect to the company’s involvement was its co-sponsorship of a special event "Human Integration with Automation and Machine Intelligence" organized by SPE’s Drilling Systems Automation Technical Section (DSATS) and IADC’s Advanced Rig Technology (ART) Committee.
Three keynote speakers from outside the oil and gas industry provided their unique insight on the topic—from a ride engineer at Walt Disney World to a deep space exploration researcher at NASA to a professor emeritus in astronautics and applied psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
“We have participated in this sub-group of SPE [DSATS] for several years, and find we have some of the same challenges in integrating people and automated machinery,” said Keith Rappold, Technology Coordination Chief, ASC Upstream. A roadmap and joint industry project (JIP) is being developed to identify and realize the value of drilling automation for our industry over the next decade.
Aramco's Extended Reach Well Design
Operating one of the leading extended reach drilling programs in the world, the e-poster technical presentation "Enhanced Extended Reach Well Design in Saudi Arabia Leads To Optimized Drilling Performance and Significant Cost Reduction" presented by German Munoz, Aramco, Drilling & Work Over, was timely and relevant as industry looks at well design for cost reduction.
The paper examined well trajectory, casing design and risk assessment and probabilistic analysis for time and cost savings related to new, enhanced extended reach well design.
During the Unconventional Drilling session, papers covered new technology and highlighted case studies involving key shale plays in the U.S.—The Bakken, Marcellus, and Eagle Ford. A team approach to horizontal drilling in the Marcellus shale region in the state of Pennsylvania illustrated how drillers “pushed the envelope” and drilled one mile per day depth while 100 percent in the targeted zone. Another paper examined a downhole automation tool used to improve performance on unconventional wells in the Bakken formation in North Dakota. A friction reduction tool (FRT) aimed at addressing the inefficiencies of drilling with high torque and drag was discussed and is timely with today’s increasing lateral and horizontal well lengths.
IADC's membership monitors and provides input to drilling safety regulations. The international conference was held in London last year and its diverse technical program has created regional spin off conferences, such as the IADC/SPE Middle East Drilling Conference & Exhibition held earlier this year in Abu Dhabi.
During the exhibition, representatives from Aramco’s Houston office, Strategic Sourcing & Projects Unit, and Procurement & Logistics talked with vendors and service providers about doing business with the company and Staffing Services as well as Public Affairs representatives were available to talk about career opportunities for expatriates and the company’s diversification strategy.