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News update – Spe.org/Journal of Petroleum Technology, 19 February 2019

Transocean said will install automated drilling systems on four of its harsh-environment rigs on long-term contracts with Equinor. An additional rig will be outfitted with the automation technology before it begins work offshore Norway later this year.

The five semisubmersibles will use a package of technologies developed by Sekal, NOV, and MHWirth, which Transocean says will deliver higher rates of penetration, better bottomhole pressure control, and gas kick detection.

The news marks the second such announcement in as many months. In January, Seadrill and German exploration company Wintershall shared plans to use automated drilling systems on a newbuild rig contracted for a North Sea drilling campaign. As with the Transocean rigs, this project will also rely on Sekal’s automated control system software, DrillTronics, which has shown it can reduce drilling times by up to 8%.

DrillTronics was first installed on a Transocean rig in 2017—the Transocean Enabler—which will undergo a software upgrade as part of the new contract. Since using the automation software, Transocean says the rig, also under contract with Equinor, has improved drilling efficiency and safety.

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