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NOV developing autonomous drilling system

HOUSTON -- National Oilwell Varco will deliver a fully autonomous drilling system by 2015, according to an NOV executive.

Speaking at the Transatlantic Science Week forum at Rice University in Houston, Merrie S. Costley, senior manager of Customer Integration for NOV, said the company is committed to developing a “well construction machine,” an interconnected system for constructing wells from beginning to completion. The key, Costley said, is a standard user interface, the NOVOS operating system, that is open and available to all developers. This will enable customization of all aspects of well construction.

“Today, the human is the loop,” Costley said. “Any problem that is encountered, a human must make a decision how to proceed. In the future, the human will be in the loop.” Decisions will be made by machines, but humans will have veto power, and can regain control at any point. Fact-based decisions will be made by computers, but the knowledge-based decisions will remain human.

Another key component is global accessibility of well information. “A tremendous amount of data is gathered,” Costley said, “but most of that is not needed by any particular person. It is important to get the right data to the right people at the right time.”

Costley said she expects the major companies to adopt the system quickly, with smaller players coming onboard more slowly, based on their risk level.



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