SLB and Equinor come closer to fully autonomous drilling with ‘exciting milestone’ off Brazil
Houston-headquartered technology player SLB and Norway’s state-owned energy giant Equinor have made inroads in bringing fully autonomous drilling operations to life while drilling a well section offshore Brazil, which is said to be the most autonomous one to date.
After the combination of its digital technologies for surface automation, autonomous on-bottom drilling, and directional drilling enabled 99% of a 2.6-kilometer section to be drilled in autonomous control mode, SLB described the latest achievement at Equinor’s Peregrino C platform offshore Brazil as “a significant step toward fully autonomous drilling operations.”
As part of Peregrino’s Phase II development, Equinor installed a third fixed platform, Peregrino C, which started operating in the field in October 2023. This followed the start-up of the gas import project with natural gas being delivered through Petrobras’ Rota 2 gas pipeline, which came after the restart of production at the Peregrino field in the Campos Basin.
With Peregrino Phase II online, the import of natural gas is expected to avoid 100,000 tons of CO2 emissions from the field per year while extending the lifetime and value of the field and adding 250-300 million barrels. This is due to Equinor replacing diesel with natural gas as the main fuel for power generation to reduce the carbon footprint from its operations with fuel substitution.
The Peregrino oil field, which started production in 2011, is located in licenses: BM-C-7 and BM-C-47, approximately 85 km offshore Brazil. This field is operated by Equinor with a 60% interest, while its partner, Sinochem, holds the remaining 40% interest. The Norwegian giant claims that Peregrino is its largest operated field outside Norway and the “first of a series of major” field developments in Brazil.
SLB underscored that faster well delivery and slashed cost and carbon emissions, came as a result of a 60% increase in the rate of penetration over a five-well program. The U.S. giant highlighted the collaboration between multidisciplinary experts, which led to the design and implementation of interconnected autonomous workflows, enabling the system to seamlessly drill the section.
Jesus Lamas, SLB’s President of Well Construction, commented: “This is an exciting milestone in the journey toward fully autonomous drilling operations. By leveraging AI and integrating advanced digital workflows, customers are realizing improved safety and performance through digital transformation, making drilling more consistent and efficient, and improving the carbon footprint of their operations.”
Furthermore, manual pipe handling and equipment sequencing tasks were automated on the rig floor with DrillPilot software while AI-driven technology in the DrillOps automation solution served to maximize on-bottom drilling performance.
In addition, the optimum trajectory was determined by Neuro autonomous solutions, which delivered the well plan, adjusting steering sequences and drilling parameters to reach the target as designed by the DrillPlan coherent well construction planning solution.
According to SLB, the DrillOps and DrillPlan solutions are cloud-based applications on the Delfi digital platform, which combines apps, AI, physics-based science, and free-flowing data to step up and bolster exploration, development, drilling, production, and new energy operations.
Back in April 2021, SLB partnered with Equinor and Microsoft to deploy the Delfi cognitive E&P environment, with seamless integration to the OSDU data platform to accelerate the Norwegian firm’s ability to integrate data at scale and improve decision-making.
SLB is actively developing solutions to assist operators in curbing their emissions footprint, as demonstrated by the launch of a compact methane instrument to enable low-cost, mass deployment of accurate, and continuous methane monitoring across oil and gas operations to eliminate emissions.