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With the high rates of penetration achieved by today’s drilling contractors, directional drillers have little time to make optimal steering decisions in a continually changing environment. Even when proper directional drilling decisions have been made, flawless execution of each decision can be difficult to perform.

Performance related to drilling speed, drilling accuracy, and tortuosity are often inconsistent and greatly determined by the experience, skills, and even the current state of mind of both the directional driller and the driller. These factors lead to increased drilling and lifting costs along with wells having inconsistent hydrocarbon production potential.

Today, directional drilling tasks are increasingly automated to deliver more consistent and improved performance in the field. Before automation can control the physical equipment on the rig, a foundation built upon automated decision-making is critical. An automated bit guidance system provides this foundation and has drilled more than 800 wells successfully across all of the major unconventional plays in North America.

Building upon the decision-making foundation, the next level of automation executes the steering decisions from the bit guidance system automatically. Slide sequences are initiated, executed, and terminated by directly linking the bit guidance system with the rig’s existing control system.

This integrated system is coupled with oversight from expert directional drillers in a remote directional drilling command center. The collaboration between human and machine has resulted in lower drilling costs, lower lifting costs, and better hydrocarbon production potential.

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