Germany’s Wintershall has stepped forward to back a new autonomous exploration drilling tool being developed in Norway.
Badger Explorer (BXPL) is developing the tool, which it describes as “a new formation and reservoir evaluation tool, which drills into the subsurface without the risks, cost and complexity of drilling an exploration well with a rig”.
The tool drills into the subsurface and buries itself. It features a slim electrically powered drilling system and carries sensors, which continuously record data producing logs while drilling, and providing continuous, long-term data in surveillance mode.
Through a sponsorship agreement, Wintershall is to co-sponsor the development of the tool through the Badger Explorer Demonstrator Program.
The Program aims to move Badger technology from prototype stage to a viable and robust commercial product, said Badger. Chevron, ExxonMobil and Statoil have signed similar sponsorship agreements with Badger.
“We are delighted that Wintershall is our fourth sponsor of the Badger Explorer Demonstrator Program,” said David Blacklaw, chief executive of BXPL.
“During 2012 BXPL have achieved several important technical milestones, coming closer to the first BXPL commercial service. The sponsorship group, consisting of Chevron, ExxonMobil, Statoil and Wintershall, illustrates the ultimate value of the development",
BXPL said: “The signed sponsorship agreements are the formal basis for the Badger Explorer Demonstrator Program with the objective of establishing a design basis for the next generation tool, where lessons learned from the prototype project will be implemented. A significant part of the Demonstrator Program is dedicated to the development and the configuration of commercial applications, such as sensors and instrumentation that can identify hydrocarbons and that can be used for long-term reservoir monitoring and management.”
Other contributors to the Demonstrator Program include Innovation Norway, whose 20million NOK award was announced in November 2011.
BXPL aims to deliver the first field pilots of the drilling tool on a commercial basis after the completion of the Demonstrator Program. These field pilots are subject of a separate project, to which the Research Council of Norway has awarded support totaling 8million NOK.