On the 12th of September 2016 as part of the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) «Distinguished Lecturer» programme a lecture with a rather unusual theme: "How NOT to automate the drilling process: practical experience of introducing innovative measures" was delivered in Ukhta State Technical University.
William Koederitz of the consulting firm GK Plus Innovations LLC delivered a lecture at the Big Physical auditorium for the students, lecturers and specialists in attendance. He worked as a drilling engineer in the industry, as a university researcher he received a Masters degree and also defended his doctorate thesis in petroleum engineering at Louisiana State University. For the more than 20 years spent at National Oilwell Varco Company, he focused on building real-time applications of drilling automation system. He is also a prestige author of twenty five (25) technical papers and fifteen (15) SPE patents.
At the beginning of his lecture, Mr. Koederitz spoke about the benefits of drilling automation. One of the key benefits is it allows you to remove personnel from workplace areas dangerous to their lives and health and use them in other areas of production. Thus, the influence of the so-called human factor on the drilling results is virtually eliminated and in addition resolves the problem of staff shortage and increases productivity.
The speaker also talked about the nature of automation which takes place. In total there exist seven levels of it: from 0 to 6. The zero level - is when everything is done by humans and the sixth level - "the reins" is when the system assumes the entire process while at the same time ignoring human input. According to the lecturer, the best or optimal level is the fifth level where the system works automatically but the driller can monitor the process and, if necessary intervene at any point in time.
Nowadays, a lot of drilling automation projects are often faced with the same difficulties that are connected with the notorious human factor, as well as the methodology for the implementation of the decisions taken. The lecturer suggested solutions to these problems which allow for increased chances for innovation in the field of automation during his lecturer. The main idea of the lecture was that the key users of the system, especially the drillers, should be actively involved in the process of the implementation at every stage: i.e. from design stage to the implementation of innovations.
The lecture was broadcasted live over the Internet for the sake of attracting a wider audience beyond the walls of the auditorium. In addition, for the first time a video link to Usinsk City was established connecting JSC «Usinskgeoneft» and a branch of the multinational company «Halliburton International Inc.». Mr. George Buslaev who is the Chairperson of the SPE Timan-Pechora section and recently appointed Head of Department of Drilling at Ukhta State Technical University served as moderator of the meeting and translated the lecture in Russian for the sake of those in attendance who don’t understand English language.
Mr. George Buslaev added at the end of the lecture that SPE colleague William Koederitz raised a very topical issue. He spoke to the audience in a very simple and clear language, same time finding lots of interesting moments for self reflection. The possibility of convincing people that the need for innovation is one of the key points for success with regards to any project in any field is always challenging, hence, the introduction of all things new is always a difficult process in Russia as well in the United States of America.