Self-drilling Oil Wells to Beat Self-driving Cars to Market, SLB VP Says

(File image SLB)
(File image SLB)

A top executive of Schlumberger NV (SLB), the world's largest energy services firm, on Monday predicted autonomous drilling of oil and gas wells will beat autonomous driving cars to market and create new efficiencies for oil producers.

Autonomous drilling is ripe for adoption by many of the world's oil majors, Abdelah Merad, an SLB executive vice president, said at the Offshore Technology Conference.

"We believe we will be almost autonomously drilling even before we can autonomously drive," Merad told the conference. "We have already with many large customers, NOCs (National Oil Companies) IOCs (International Oil Companies) and large independents that are on the way where we are dealing with automation, autonomous drilling," he said.

Autonomous drilling will increase efficiency and with the use of artificial intelligence result in improvements in the quality of the wells as each one is an improvement on the next, he said.

In January SLB announced that it and Equinor drilled a well in Brazil that was over 2.5 kilometers using autonomous control mode that resulted in a 60% increase in rate of penetration, faster well delivery with reduced cost and carbon emissions.

"Less people onsite, it is safer, it is going to be reliable," Merad told Reuters on the sidelines of the OTC conference.

(Reuters - Reporting by Curtis Williams in Houston, Georgina McCartney and David Gregorio)

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