DrillTronics software automates drilling process control, enabling drillers to optimize and enhance the safety of their drilling operations. Integrated with the rig’s drilling control system (DCS) machine controls for drawworks, top drive, and mud pumps, DrillTronics applies the same advanced modeling capabilities as DrillScene® to maintain wellbore stability and consequently reduce non-productive time.
Combining advanced modeling and control of key machinery, DrillTronics can help drillers avoid critical situations that might lead to significant economic losses.
DrillTronics can determine all possible combinations of a driller’s actions (string accelerations, velocities, rotation, pump start-ups and flow rates) that could cause the dynamic downhole pressure to reach or exceed wellbore stability and geopressure limits. Once this safe operating envelope has been established, DrillTronics can ensure that all drilling operations are conducted within the limits.
How DrillTronics can help
The primary focus for a DrillTronics installation is to enhance drilling operations and maximize productive time during drilling.
It achieves this by:
- Applying operational safeguards to the drilling control system. These ensure that pressure inside the wellbore remains within the geopressure window, even during transient operations such as starting the mud pump or tripping in or out of hole.
- Providing automatic safety mechanisms. These safety triggers react to drilling incidents (such as a pack-offs) and take corrective action to prevent problems from becoming more serious.
- Enabling automatic sequences while ensuring that the well is protected by using safeguards and automatic safety mechanisms. The automated sequences offer greater efficiency and consistency across a range of drilling operations. They allow the driller to focus on the most important information while executing standard operations. Predefined automatic functions implement the required operational sequences and manage associated parameters when operating the mud pumps, draw works and top drive.
DrillTronics: tailored to your needs
Drilling operations can be highly variable. Every borehole requires a different approach and places specific demands on the driller and the drilling system.
When activated, DrillTronics calculates safe limits and applies these to the Drilling Control System (DCS). The default setting is that all of the automated functions, safeguards and safety triggers are active during the operation, but the setup can be configured to fit the specific operation.
The DrillTronics functions to activate are:
- Safeguarded drill string movement
- Safeguarded and semi-automatic pump startup
- Safeguarded and automatic friction test
- Safeguarded and automatic reciprocation
- Automatic safety triggers for over-pull, maximum torque and set-down weight
- Automatic safety triggers in case of pack-off with automatic pump handling
DrillTronics in action
DrillTronics is a powerful tool for enhancing the safety and efficiency of drilling operations. It can control swab and surge effects, manage pump startup, conduct semi-automatic friction test and reciprocation, visualize and monitor borehole progress.
In contrast to DrillScene, which uses core Sekal technology to identify well symptoms in the hours or minutes before problems develop, DrillTronics intervenes and executes safety procedures immediately if conditions deviate from the calculated safe limits. With DrillTronics embedded in the drilling control system, well integrity is maintained.
As DrillTronics detects standpipe pressure (SPP) approaches the defined limit, fracturing pressure, the system performs a controlled pump rate reduction.
Controls swab/surge effects
Swab pressure and surge pressure have to be controlled to prevent kicks or formation break down. DrillTronics helps the driller to control these pressures and so minimize the risk of unplanned events
Manage pump startup/stop and shutdown
During mud pump acceleration, downhole pressures must not exceed the fracturing pressure of the openhole formations. It is vital, therefore, to estimate the effect of downhole pressure variations for the entire openhole well section and not only at the casing shoe depth or at the bit depth. DrillTronics supports a semi-automatic pump startup, which controls the rate of change and maximum flowrates of the mud pumps. This helps the drillers and prevents formation damage when starting the mud pumps.
In situations where DrillTronics detects that pressure is getting close to fracturing pressure or erratic pressure signature the system performs a controlled pump rate reduction or shutdown.
Automatic friction test (right) deliver a much higher degree of repeatability than manual tests (left).
Conducts semi-automatic friction test and reciprocation
Friction tests record free-rotating weight, free-rotating torque, pick-up weight and slack-off weight. Manual friction tests are inconsistent and give erratic values. It is important that the same procedure be used for every test. By automating friction tests, DrillTronics removes the potential for driller -introduced variations.
Reciprocation is run when further hole improvements, such as hole cleaning or reaming, are necessary and can last several hours. In DrillTronics the reciprocation process can be automated to assist the driller during this tedious and time-consuming operation.
Throughout the reciprocation process, DrillTronics continuously monitors surface parameters (hook load, hook speed and acceleration, surface rpm, surface torque, pump rate and pump pressure) to assist the driller during the automated sequences. DrillTronics makes it easy to detect the sudden changes in hook load and surface torque that may indicate pack-off or hole collapse. If the difference between measured and predicted values exceeds a given threshold level, the safety function will be automatically triggered.
Visualizes and monitors borehole progress – the mud logger’s view
Mud loggers monitor and record a range of key drilling parameters, including speed of rotation, rate of penetration, pit levels, cutting rate and mud-flow rate. Using DrillTronics, they have instant, real-time access to detailed information from the borehole.
DrillTronic Case Study
Drilling automation saves rig time and safeguards against human error.
The world’s first deployment of an automated drilling control system helped Statoil cut rig time per well by 4%. This was achieved by optimizing manual operations and automating repetitive drilling activities such as tripping, pipe filling, connections and pump start up.
Deployment of DrillTronics on the Statfjord C platform provided advanced modeling of well conditions, and closed-loop control of the drilling control system that provided automatic safeguards for pressure, rotary and hoisting velocity. The DrillTronics models calculated and communicated current limits to the drilling control system, enabling it to safeguard against human error during manual operations and to automate repetitive operations.
After three wells, the drilling team had recorded an overall time saving of 4% per well through automation of repetitive sequences such as pump start-ups and friction tests. Further time savings (2–8% per well) were realized through optimized manual operations such as active safeguards and safety triggers and other improvement initiatives implemented by the rig.
DrillTronics was developed to eliminate human errors and avoid major incidents such as technical side-tracks. However, the record of consistent efficiency gains at Statfjord shows that the system can also help to avoid minor issues that would have slowed the operation without being seen as downtime – invisible lost time.
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We focus on helping clients enhance their operations and optimize drilling performance by applying trend analysis and dynamic modeling to predict changes in drilling conditions that will lead to delays, inefficiencies and invisible lost time.