Skip to content

First Digital Drilling Vessel Linked Up

Collaborative partnerships are often the driving force behind many of the ground-breaking projects we see today, as bringing resources, use cases, technology, knowledge and people together have proved crucial in attempting to radically alter an existing industrial landscape.

A promising example of which can be found in the ongoing partnership between GE and Noble Corporation, a British offshore drilling contractor, in their attempt to develop a unique tool for the oil and gas industry, the world’s first digital drilling vessel.

The vessel’s primary goal is to achieve a reduction of 20% in operational expenditure as well as an improvement in drilling efficiency. The rig itself is connected to all the necessary control systems, such as the drilling control network, the power management system and the dynamic positioning system. These deliver data to the Industrial Performance & Reliability Centre together with individual sensors, centralised on the vessel in near-real time. The vessels are also equipped with a system capable of implementing predictive analytics.

So far, preliminary testing has shown promising results on both marine and drilling equipment analysis. The system successfully highlighted anomalies and created alarms for weaknesses that may cause issues to arise in following months. The vessel also uses digital twin technology combined with advanced analytics. While a more substantial amount of data will be required to fully gauge these capabilities, as well as understand how the rig will fare independently, it is expected that enough data will have been retrieved by the end of the year.

Noble Corporation’s Senior Vice-President of Operations, Bernie Wolford, says about the venture: “The potential of digitalisation will go beyond a single vessel, opening the door to transforming our entire fleet. The data backbone paves the way towards autonomous drilling, and digital technology is facilitating a new era of drilling and asset performance improvements that are unprecedented.”

Any indicator that digitisation projects within the O&G industry are not gathering significant traction, but yielding such positive results is exciting news for Dashboard, particularly as this is the product of a sizable collaborative effort. How these digital vessels can potentially reshape the drilling landscape is yet to be seen, but the success of these (and other similar) efforts will no doubt pave the way for various other applications seeking to harness similar technology.