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Impact of Technology on Oil Well Drilling

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The Global energy requirements have been increasing over the last few years and experts believe this will only go upwards as we look to the future. Oil is an important source to meet the global energy consumption needs and naturally Oil & Gas companies are compelled to find and drill more wells which is a daunting task to say the least. As Oil companies begin to explore newer locations to find more wells it gets that much more difficult to extract oil; some of these new-found wells are too deeply located and run for far too long.

As per International Energy Agency (IEA) report, the demand for Oil will rise in the next five years and is slated to pass the 100 million barrels/day requirement in 2019 and reach 104 million barrels/day requirement in 2022.

 

‘’Global Oil supply could struggle to keep up with the demand post 2020 leading to a sharp increase in prices unless new projects are approved soon’’    IEA Report

 

One of the biggest challenges for Oil companies will be to find techniques – to dig deeper and longer wells, extract oil efficiently and of course, keep these well safe and sound. This is where technology comes into play. And over the years, technology has ensured that the process of well completion that begins from seismic testing of sites to oil extraction and pumping has gotten better by the day.

Technology – harbinger of drilling efficiency

Oil & Gas companies across the world are looking to technological adoption in a bid to enhance the well completion process and more specifically, the drilling process. As we speak, many oil companies are eagerly investing in technological solutions to bring in greater efficiencies in drilling and extraction process. Let us understand some of the ways technology is influencing the drilling process –

Sensors for testing sites: For long, oil companies depended on cables for seismic testing of potential oil sites. The laborious process of laying the infrastructure required to explore and exploit is time-consuming and capital intensive making it highly unprofitable for oil companies. Technology in the form of computers, sensors, and wireless communication is helping oil companies conduct the testing process quickly and efficiently. Oil companies stand the benefit of having cheaper, faster, and more accurate testing process via technology.

Automation in Drilling: Previously, the process of drilling involved a lot of manual reporting and operations but now things have changed. Technology enabled machines or robots are now participating in the drilling process making it much easier and quicker to drill. Another valuable benefit brought out by automation is the case of machines handling the mechanical and hydraulic drudgery of drilling which means that people are kept away from hazardous tasks. These human resources can now focus on other core areas that would help enhance the overall performance of drilling. It is also interesting to note that drill bits which were previously directed manually are now directed by computers.

‘’Ever since oil prices began declining, digital innovation has been rising as a strategic business priority. It is a critical pathway for delivering efficiency and has now become a distinguishing hallmark of industry leaders.’’    “” Richard McAvey, VP (Research), Gartner “”

Advanced simulation technologies coupled with extended reach drilling capabilities are allowing operators to optimize where and how stimulation fluid interacts with rock and this in turn, facilitates sustained production along the length of wellbore. Technology is helping companies achieve completions in excess of 3,000 meters in comparison with just 30 meters about 20 years ago.


Monitoring and controlling:
Geoscientists and engineers with the help of wireless technology monitor and control the drilling process real-time. What is even more interesting is that technology will now help these engineers to monitor multiple wells simultaneously be it onshore or far out in the sea. Sensors attached to equipment help supervisors monitor, detect, and even repair when things go wrong during the drilling process, remotely. This sort of an advantage altogether bolsters the drilling efficiency and resource productivity.Advanced simulation technologies coupled with extended reach drilling capabilities are allowing operators to optimize where and how stimulation fluid interacts with rock and this in turn, facilitates sustained production along the length of wellbore. Technology is helping companies achieve completions in excess of 3,000 meters in comparison with just 30 meters about 20 years ago.

Automated Rigs: Rigs are the essential machinery required for drilling and thankfully for oil companies, the rigs of the present day are way ahead of their predecessors; they are automated and are connected to the central system. Technology driven rigs are easy to be shifted, monitored, and scheduled and this is very essential considering the present circumstances and requirements that demand the need for drilling multiple wells at the same base.

Yield per well: Technology brings about an increase in drilling efficiency and accuracy, it allows for supervisors to assess the geological conditions and take the right actions on both drilling and production process. What makes this possible is the computerized monitoring of all activities and the practice of centralizing knowledge at control centers which in turn helps spread best practices when it comes to drilling and production. This ensures considerable increase in yield per well.

Many companies have found benefit in the form of increasing profitability, in fact, a few smaller companies even benefit through having a 30-40% increase in their profitability. A classic example of drilling technology has completely overhauled the drilling and completion process is that of Pioneer Natural Resources, a Texas based producer – using latest drilling technology the company has been able to cut about 25% of its costs and double the drilling capacity of its rig from eight wells to 16 wells a year.

Technology plays a dual role here – it eases the process of Oil and Gas Production Software and extraction through the deployment of both hardware and software and at the same time allows for a much more enhanced and efficient production process. A technology backed oil drilling process results in optimal use of both machines and human resources and thus, saves huge costs for companies and sets them on the path for better profitability.

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