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Making drilling automation a reality

Jul 03, 2018
7 min read
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Dr. Gerhard Thonhauser, founder of TDE Group, speaks to Pipeline Magazine’s Nadia Saleem about the company’s role in digital transformation with automated drilling through analytics and AI

 

How does TDE Group play a role in the oil and gas industry shift towards digitalisation?

 

TDE Group is a technology company leading the oil and gas industry into the digital age through our software enabled and datadriven products and services. Our solutions are available on a global scale with a legacy of 18 years’ experience in the industry and academia. As an international data-driven company having a unique portfolio of machine learning and artificial intelligence skills and solutions, we are at the forefront of delivering digital drilling intelligence, to enable clients to be fit for the future, bringing stability into the wide open and unpredictable territory of digitalisation in the industry.

 

What technology from TDE Group supports this?

The scope of our digital solutions ranges from drilling data performance analysis, digital downhole drilling systems to production optimisation. Our success is built on relentless research and development for integrated data solutions for the oil and gas industry. As an independent industry-leader of holistic drilling data aggregation, processing, analysis and big data services, TDE group is continuously utilising its expertise to develop innovative solutions to enforce drilling into the digital age, with the proficiency to produce advanced specialised technical equipment for the oil and gas industry.

Our motivation and mission is to significantly reduce drilling costs (up to 30 per cent), drill better wells with higher productivity (up to 25 per cent), and to make automated drilling a reality.

proNova is the drilling performance optimisation solution, enforced by artificial intelligence that utilises one of the strongest rule-engines on the market.

Founded upon the patented Automated Operations Recognition System, and more than 18 years of experience of analysing and representing drilling data, the pioneering service allows clients to unlock the true potential of their drilling data through the unique web-based analysis and automated reporting service.

Over 40,000 wells have been processed by the international proNova team, who use their legacy of expertise and academia to provide solutions for major international clients, who take decisions based on their high-quality drilling operational data provided by proNova to optimise their drilling, rig, crew and workover performance to reduce costs.

PDS digital drilling technology is the cutting-edge hardware that will transform the drilling industry, delivering an integrated downhole drilling system for real-time decision making, drilling digitalisation and automation. This new generation of downhole tools based on bi-directional data transmission and surface power supply, is a revolutionary technology, to gain real-time measurements directly from the bit.

This enables decisions to be made from unique, high quality, real-time data utilising advanced data analytics and artificial intelligence. Current mud pulse systems fail to transmit high frequency and detailed data streams – PDS can bridge that gap and make drilling automation a reality.

PDS is an integrated downhole drilling system that takes full advantage of high bandwidth telemetry, which is 10,000 times more than the current mud pulse system, with the power supply from the surface. This eliminates the use of batteries and downhole turbines, this dramatically changes the operational cost and performance of drilling.

What work/investments is your company doing in R&D to push the industry forward?

The worldwide network of establishments and the wealth of expertise of our highly trained employees and developers, empowers the research and development of artificial intelligence solutions using real-time, big data analytics, to allow clients to improve their drilling efficiency. Since the foundation of TDE, the entire organisation has been constantly developing and providing innovative technologies to adapt to the volatile industry. The development of systems for automated well planning and automated drilling from TDE assists companies venturing into this unpredictable and unprecedented territory of digitalisation.

 

What benefits can oil and gas companies have from automating data analytics on well construction and rig performance?

The automation of data analysis influences the way performance can be improved for well construction and rig performance. It is the only way to cope with the ever-growing amount of measurements and data streams available. Relevant and accurate information is available when required and due to the high frequency of data, it is possible to make real-time decisions whilst drilling.

 

How will this impact existing upstream infrastructure?

We learnt that we must drill more and more wells for the same production. In addition, the cost of drilling is steadily increasing. The notion of digitalisation and automation for the upstream infrastructure enables the significant reduction of drilling costs due the ability to drill faster through increased drilling efficiency, as well as recognising and mitigating drilling problems before they occur.

 

What challenges in technology, funding and skills, present themselves as companies look towards digitalisation?

Digitalisation, and the impact on the way we work is a relatively novel concept in the industry. Due to the challenges of implementing new technology, which evolves very fast, many companies struggle with this speed and the change in management to support the technology.

The oil and gas industry is very experience driven, compared to others, such as the auto or aerospace industries. Cost and safety pressure lead to the automation of flight control systems, or manufacturing plants. But more than that, digitalisation has affected their overall business model and customer interaction.

These changes are still ahead in the industry to make oil and gas companies fit for the future in a much more competitive, cost driven environment. The lack of research and development, especially by operating companies, has contributed to the deficit of skills and new advances in technology. Fortunately, this is gradually changing, as many companies see value in technology again and are seeking new partnerships to find innovative solutions in the fast-moving world of digitalisation.

 

How is demand for automation services and technology affecting by the volatile oil price?

As we know, the industry has always been incredibly volatile. There is one trend: we have to drill more wells for the same production. The wells become more complex and productivity is key. The fluctuations in oil prices impact the industry, so that players are seeking technology which makes them cost efficient, thus more independent of the oil price. Automation is a vital component to enable consistent, safe operations activities, which cannot be achieved remaining dominantly dependent on experience human interaction. Inefficiencies are detected and utilising performance improvement services and technologies, as our proNova technology ensures consistent operations which helps to bridge the gap to save time and money. Therefore, the demand for these technologies has increased significantly in recent years.

 

Where is your company’s main business and where do you see opportunity to expand?

TDE Group is based in Abu Dhabi, the ideal location for international growth and one of the epicentres for oil and gas business. We aim for global growth and have subsidiaries located worldwide serving major international clients. We will expand in the area of integrated downhole systems, build a portfolio of revolutionary downhole tools and use our many years of unique experience with big data to grow in the drilling and production optimisation domains. We will translate digitalisation to cost efficiency and performance. We aim to disrupt with innovative technology and business models in this area. As an institution for digitalisation, we are determined to deliver our innovative solutions to enable upstream companies to be fit for the future.

 

What’s your business outlook in the short-medium term?

Our vision is to provide intelligent and advanced technology to lead the industry into a new era – the digital age. We see the short and medium term very positive. Now is the time where we can leverage and build on our expertise and make a big difference. We will heavily invest in the development of novel and disruptive technologies to meet the growing demand of innovative services and products, which our business is built upon – so the future is bright for TDE.

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