The world today is now enjoying the service of around 270 offshore gas and oil drill rig companies.
Most of them that hold their operations in shallower waters are run either by jack-up rigs or fixed rigs. On the other hand, those that are run in water that is at least 500 feet deep usually have subsea or floating rigs, instead.
With respect to the history of a rig drilling industry, drilling and digging into the earth past its surface is undeniably a capital, labor, and energy-intensive activity. However, we are seeing now a silver lining on this as things are about to change. For instance, typical scenarios on land sites based on solar or wind to power rigs have now commenced to take off.
Drill rig companies that now operate in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea are manned by at least 50 to 200 people, depending on how big or small the rig is.
However, these numbers are anticipated to take a plunge with the impending application of artificial intelligence technology or A.I. since rig sites that are located in deep-sea waters are often the preserve of A.I.-run robots. These robots though are being manned by humans who are stationed in onshore control centers.
At present, the cost for offshore rigs would be averaging around US$650m. This amount is 20 times higher when compared to the land rig average cost. But rig design industrialization and production is likely going to pull down the costs in the coming years.
Optimizing Efficiency with New Technology
There is no other direction now for drilling but to become even more efficient. Cloud computing, in conjunction with big data analysis software, is creating beautiful changes to how we collect, analyze, and monitor collected drilling data.
When it comes to obtaining balance in fluid pressures, and accurate measurement of hydraulic, mechanical, and engineering drilling data is crucial. They are also essentially important in optimizing the drilling process as well as for the maintenance of a safe operating environment.
The Colorado School of Mines suggested that when 2050 comes our current used traditional drilling solutions will be replaced by chemical industrial lasers. Right now, we have to take major strides before this technology could even become commercially competitive with traditional drilling methods.
Certainly, drill rig companies working in fields that currently have a yield of less than 10% can significantly improve by implementing the use of lasers.
As of this writing Total’s Alwyn platform is being tested out by AI-enabled robots. These AI-equipped robots are sophisticated in terms of technology they use.
They are also equipped with sensors that will allow them to understand whatever it is that is transpiring to their immediate environment, whereas algorithms will make it possible for them to act, plan and interact with their environment and with humans.
As for other robots, they carry out visual inspections. They can also identify leaks in gas as part of the US$47.5m ORCA program or Offshore Robotics for Certification of Assets.
The said program is geared towards the development of autonomous and semi-autonomous robots (AI-enabled) that can repair, inspect, and certify and maintain offshore-energy facilities. In the not so distant future, this is likely to become the norm, the new standard.
But right now, the prospect of having an offshore industry that is fully automated is such a big risk, because artificial intelligence is practically still in its infancy stage. Much like how Phillips puts it, “AI learning is an imposing challenge, especially when the unfolding of relevant events is unpredictable or undeterminable.