Fracing robots in the works as oil field is digitized

David Wethe August 21, 2018

HOUSTON -- Rack up one more thing robots can be used for: Fracing for oil.

Bots already are used to vacuum floors, build cars and do heart surgery. Now, Halliburton Co. wants to add fracing to the to-do list.

The world’s biggest provider of the technique that unlocks oil and natural gas from shale rock has a vision of push-button fracing that’s still years in the making. But for now, the Houston-based contractor unveiled a new service that will help move in that direction.

Tested in fields globally including the Permian basin of West Texas and New Mexico, Halliburton’s Prodigi AB service uses data and computer coding to automatically crank up the pumps to the necessary level in order to blast water, sand and chemicals underground to released trapped hydrocarbons.

“This is new territory for the industry,” Scott Gale, who oversees the new fracing service at Halliburton, said in an interview on the sidelines of Halliburton’s annual technology conference in Houston. “We recognize that digital technologies are descending on our industry, so expectations are high.

”Typically, workers have to rev up the pumps manually, which can lead to inefficiency and delays, Gale said. Before wells are fracked, automated rigs are already being used to drill them.

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