Maersk Drilling transcends old-school E&P processes, expands digital partnership with GE Marine

Alex Endress, World Oil

Danish rig contractor Maersk Drilling has nailed its digital stake deeply into the E&P industry’s big data landscape. With the company’s latest announcement that it will expand its data analytics partnership with GE Marine, the driller seems to be leading the pack of its drilling contractor peers in the upstream industry’s digital transformation.

The partnership’s pilot project deployed GE’s SeaStream Insight, a marine asset performance management system (APM), onboard a Maersk XLE drilling rig for one year. The project was announced in November 2016, and its objectives were to increase the rig’s drilling productivity and reduce maintenance costs 20%. To accomplish these goals, the performance management system tracks sensor data from critical equipment during drilling operations, and transmits the data to a specialized server that stores the data, according to GE. The system’s software then utilizes the data to build a model of the operation, or as GE calls it, a “digital twin,” which allows the company to compare each operation’s performance with the its optimal status. It also uses data-processing algorithms to calculate future asset health and failure, enabling predictive maintenance, rather than a calendar-based maintenance system.

As part of Maersk’s recent expansion with GE, the APM will be implemented on nine more Maersk drilling rigs. The expansion will track operational data on “110 key equipment assets, such as the top drive, drawworks, thrusters and main engines,” the company’s announcement said. The drilling contractor pointed out several operations for which it hopes to improve efficiencies, including drilling, tripping in, tripping out, running riser and pulling riser. Data analytics on the new vessels and equipment is set to begin later this year, and the companies will continue with the goal of reducing overall maintenance costs 20%, over a multi-year contract.

“We believe that the systematic adoption of reliability-centered maintenance analysis and digitization will be a step change in our industry, and Maersk Drilling plans to lead the way, said Jesper Hansen, chief information officer of Maersk Drilling. “To do that, we must acknowledge the need to break down the industry silos and work collaboratively across the value chain, as the sharing of data will enable further digital breakthroughs, which can enhance efficiency and remove waste across the supply chain.” He stated that the company has an ambition of offering oil majors “the world’s first digitally optimized drilling operation.”

Maersk has made its bet that the big data analytics technologies offered by GE will succeed in bringing significant ROI to all parties involved. While the companies have not yet released any specific figures associated with the monetary savings achieved due to the pilot project, the expansion of the project likely means that the APM produced a promising result. The development is an exciting indicator of the direction that the E&P industry is pointed in, and the technologies that drillers are moving toward—technologies that could be necessary for offshore plays to be able to one day compete with cheaper onshore shale plays. At any rate, Maersk’s project is proof that the digital transformation is no longer only on the horizon, it is happening right in front of us.

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Alex Endress

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