NOV profiles its eVolve Optimization service, which uses dynamic drilling systems and automation technology to improve drilling performance
Optimization is never about improving one thing. It should be a comprehensive process, and one which takes into account the macro-view of an operation as well as a detailed, granular examination of how things can be improved. In drilling optimization, that also means putting together hardware, software, and a wealth of expertise, covering everything from analytics to tool design.
One firm pioneering new techniques for optimization and automation is National Oilwell Varco (NOV). The company has laid claim to being “the only firm in the world that can automate the entire drilling system in-house,” and it does so with some fairly impressive technologies. Offered by NOV’s Dynamic Drilling Solutions (DDS) business unit, the eVolveTM Optimization Service equips existing rigs, rig crews, and engineers with an advanced toolkit that delivers enhanced performance, allows improved real-time decision making, and provides advanced analytics capability.
The eVolve Optimization Service relies on a four-phase optimization approach to enhance drilling performance throughout a project’s life cycle. The process begins with a critical review of key performance indicators and drilling data to provide a better understanding of how to improve drilling system performance. After analyzing the data to identify risk and opportunity, NOV experts build a strategy to deliver on the client’s performance objectives.
Using offset well benchmarks, NOV experts develop a drilling plan, assist in bottomhole assembly (BHA) design, and create drilling parameter roadmaps, which are all supported by a suite of performance optimization software. After mobilizing tools and systems to the client’s rig, the plan is executed, incorporating enhanced data acquisition tools.
The DDS business unit is a result of an NOV reorganization in 2014, in which individual technologies and services with regards to drilling optimization and automation were integrated under the same umbrella.
The main contribution came from the Instrumentation, Monitoring, and Optimization business unit, which was previously a part of NOV Rig Solutions and included surface instrumentation like Martin Decker™ and MD Totco™ products for monitoring operations. BlackBoxTM services, which are memory, high-density downhole dynamics sensors, were added from the NOV Downhole business unit to provide the full picture of the drilling system. By adding high-speed telemetry drillpipe from the IntelliServTM business unit, real-time measurements from along-string and downhole tools can improve monitoring of weight transfer, rotation, torque, pressure, temperature, and vibrations. This will ultimately provide better data for a smarter decision-making process, increase efficiency, and reduce both operational risk and cost.
The fundamental pillar supporting the eVolve service is data acquisition, and the service’s INFORM offering uses this to provide insight into existing assets. Using the proprietary RigSense™ rigsite information system, a range of sensors provide data on everything from electronic drilling recording to gas detection. In addition to automatically generated reports, NOV’s team can aid operators in analyzing trends, reporting, and data to determine how sites are performing and where improvements can be made, e.g. in communication, training, or well planning.
INFORM is supported by NOV staff at the RTTC. This is an advanced monitoring and advisory support centre for drilling, drilling optimization, and rig operations around the world. The RTTC provides remote support from NOV experts, who work around the clock proactively monitoring and analyzing real-time drilling data to optimize the drilling environment. The DDS business unit relies on the RTTC as its analytics hub for all drilling data. As a vital part of the eVolve Optimization Service, the RTTC stores and analyzes data while drilling to support operations. RTTC services vary with the different tiers of eVolve service, ranging from tools/systems information that facilitates more informed decision making to being actively engaged with rigsite personnel and drilling contractors.
This effective data acquisition produces results. For one Australian operator, using a combination of the RigSense system with an NOV technical team meant uptime was increased to more than 99%.
The ADVISE tier optimizes the drilling process using downhole data, with a particular focus on improving efficiency and reducing costs. Using NOV hardware and software in tandem to examine existing information and collect surface and downhole data, the project team can identify and address potential challenges.
NOV’s BlackBox enhanced measurement system (EMS) tools are central to the ADVISE tier. The BlackBox tool is based on a compact, flexible design, allowing measurements to be taken in the BHA or drillstring. The collar-based memory-mode logging tools can then capture a wide array of measurements including multi-axis vibration, load, pressure, torque, and rotation.
Combining analysis on known rock properties and formation characteristics, the team can use data collected from the drilling equipment to provide formation and depth parameters, giving operators a roadmap for how, where, and how fast they should be drilling. In addition, they can make recommendations on BHA design and component use to ensure the process is fully optimized.
The analytical power of the RTTC and BlackBox data acquisition also supports full post-well analysis from the combined surface and downhole memory-mode measurements, allowing operators to compare against set benchmarks and ultimately reduce well costs.
For one client in Colombia, data acquired from NOV helped navigate a particularly challenging formation which had damaged the drill bit and reduced the rate of penetration (ROP). Data acquired from the BlackBox tools allowed NOV to set optimal parameters and redesign the BHA in a second well, leading to a reduction in equipment damage, less buckling and mechanical strain, and a 23% improvement in ROP.
The third eVolve tier uses NOV hardware and software to improve the accuracy and quality of drilling data, reduce drilling dysfunction, and streamline the process of drilling.
The StringSenseTM integrated drillstring measurement system (instrumented IBOP) provides measurements for direct drillstring tension and compression, drillstring torque, RPM, bending moment, and internal pressure immediately below the topdrive’s main shaft, transmitting the data wirelessly to a surface receiver system. Accurate drillstring tension and torque data via direct measurements can help reduce the risk of parting strings, extend drilling envelopes through improved torque and drag models, and improve drilling equipment efficiency.
This high-density surface data feed could also enable NOV’s DrillSharkTM drilling application for optimized ROP or mechanical specific energy. The DrillShark service automatically and consistently adjusts drilling parameters by changing drawworks position and topdrive speed.
Data-driven control features can help mitigate some of the major problems faced by drillers, such as stick-slip oscillation. These are severe, self-sustained periodic fluctuations of drillstring torque and rotational speed, driven by downhole friction, which typically result in large variations in bit and BHA speed.
Another technology included in the Control tier is NOV's SoftSpeed™ II stick-slip prevention service, which is an analytics platform that can automatically detect and prevent oscillations to optimize efficiency and reduce equipment wear. This passive system is activated on demand by the driller and continuously identifies, quantifies, and alerts the user of torsional vibrations. If the indicator on the driller’s control screen shows stick-slip, the SoftSpeed II system can be activated and the auto-tuning feature enables the speed controller to optimal damping.
In one Oklahoma drilling operation, an eVolve project team recommended the SoftSpeed II system. Using the SoftSpeed II system enabled the operator to increase ROP by an average of 61%. When compared to the two offset wells, this resulted in a cost savings of more than US$100,000.
NOV’s technical expertise culminates in the eVolve service’s foremost tier, AUTOMATE. NOV uses the world’s first application of closed-loop, downhole data to drive NOV’s rig control systems. The package links sensors, automated controls, hardware, and software via high-speed telemetry to manage optimal drilling efficiency.
One particularly powerful application is NOV’s IntelliServ network, a wired drillstring and component suite which combines data measurement, acquisition, and secure transfer. The wired drillstring’s high-speed data transfer translates into major time savings, transferring surveys, downlinks, and slide orientations in seconds rather than the minutes taken by conventional telemetry. High-frequency, low-latency data also allows more responsive control of directional control, well placement, and hole cleaning, all of which contributes to higher ROP.
As previously mentioned, NOV’s DrillShark automated drilling service also uses adaptive algorithms and remote monitoring to automatically adjust drilling parameters. When combined with rig instrumentation, a multiparameter autodriller, and an advanced rig equipment control interface for automated adjustments to topdrive setpoints, the Drillshark service optimizes energy use during drilling to reduce bit wear and BHA vibration. The input could be high-density surface data; however, with use of IntelliServ high-speed telemetry, the drilling application will run on data streaming live from downhole.
In one operation for a North Sea operator, the AUTOMATE service—in particular the BlackStreamTM and IntelliServ technologies, which gathered data and measurements along the string—enabled a far greater understanding of downhole conditions. While operators have typically relied on estimates of equivalent fluid density calculated via annular pressure measurements and hydraulics models, the BlackStream tool provided accurate along-string data in real time, removing a great deal of uncertainty and enabling better decision making. This resulted in reservoir drains being extended due to improved downhole pressure control in narrow mud weight window application. Target production was therefore met after completing three oil producing wells instead of the planned four wells. Approximately 70 days of operation were cut from the drilling campaign with the cancellation of the fourth well.
As with the other eVolve tiers, the AUTOMATE offering is supported via real-time remote monitoring and expertise from the RTTC.
When it comes to hardware and software, technical solutions are continuously developed and improved to accommodate industry challenges. The increasing amount of real-time downhole data available confirms the need for a robust IT infrastructure as well as quick visualization solutions for an accurate overview of wellbore status updates. IntelliServ wired drillpipe telemetry allows for 57,600 bps data transmission. When compared to today’s mud-pulse telemetry at approximately 20 bps, the possibilities are significantly increased for “turning the light on” downhole as opposed to conventional models and their uncertainties.
The full closed-loop automation system is currently being run with good results in land operations. Significant savings have been achieved by operators, which includes eliminating days in drilling time due to improved performance based on true downhole measurements. In addition to the “drill faster” concept, automation technology also delivers more consistent performance, easing the planning process for both equipment delivery and budgets.
For offshore operations, NOV is looking at a different approach—a “drill smarter” concept is introduced for improved value from improved geosteering and wellbore placement, leading to enhanced production.
The eVolve Optimization Service is currently supported throughout NOV locations worldwide, and the different levels of service are offered dependent on the specific application and its needs. Rig compatibility and scope of deliverables will therefore be a deciding factor to any service cost. However, the above examples from eVolve projects clearly show a gain in performance as well as cost savings greater than the investment. Different business models for OPEX or CAPEX are also available for all levels of services as the DDS business unit adjusts to client requests.