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With its introduction of DrillX, one of the flagship programs in its digital transformation, TotalEnergies is shaping the future of drilling. Safer, more efficient, more environmentally friendly and at a lower cost, this next-generation drilling, which draws on the power of artificial intelligence, is based on solid principles and opens the door to an infinite number of possibilities.

DrillX - Exploration & Production - TotalEnergies

At the drilling sites operated by TotalEnergies, all wells are equipped with a range of ultra-high-performance sensors. That yields an impressive quantity of captured data, a true mine of information for the teams. “With those sensors we can capture an enormous amount of data, but it’s difficult to make of the data in that raw format. Deploying the DrillX program will allow us to convert what used to be “noise” data into a real decision-making tool for the drilling business,” says David Vavasseur, DrillX project manager and Domain Lead with the TotalEnergies Digital team at Exploration & Production.

The power of digital technology on behalf of safety

TotalEnergies has decided to apply this decision-making tool to a core value: safety. Wells must be monitored closely to prevent the risk of accidents. “Safety is a top priority,” says David Vavasseur. “So very early on, we bet on the potential of predictive technology and how that approach could improve the way we manage major risks. When you drill a well, you always need to have two barriers: the drilling mud, which serves as a hydrostatic barrier, and the blowout preventer. That way, if the hydrostatic barrier is lost and an influx occurs, a second protective measure is in place to secure the site. Now, DrillX lets us go much further in protecting our assets and the environment. Thanks to artificial intelligence, the data we collect on the wells enables us to detect any unusual development far in advance.” And in fact, the tool is already helping to predict 70% of incidents. Well influxes, in particular, can be detected up to five hours before they occur, which gives the drilling teams time to take the necessary steps to prevent them from happening.

“Our goal is to reduce influxes and stuck events by about 20% in 2021 and 50% in 2023.” It’s an ambitious target that requires a fundamental change in mindset for the teams: preventing rather than containing. “Our approach now consists of detecting incidents in advance and moving proactively to reverse the trend rather than contain incidents after the fact,” says David Vavasseur.

A constantly higher level of performance

While DrillX is a powerful risk prevention tool, it also gives TotalEnergies new opportunities for improving the performance level of its drilling activity. In the past, managing unforeseen incidents or equipment breakage would result in cumulative non-productive time or invisible lost time of 20% on average, but the digital transformation program aims to reduce that lost time by 5% to 7%. “That’s a fairly significant improvement,” says David Vavasseur. “And for our teams, using DrillX also means they have more time to devote to tasks that generate higher added value. The tool unpacks the useful information and helps our operators with their decision-making. That creates a virtuous loop and lets us achieve a fairly unique level of operational excellence.”

The anticipated performance gains are impressive, estimated at USD 250 million/year by 2025. The savings from reducing non-productive time alone will reduce drilling costs by USD 90 million annually for TotalEnergies.

DrillX: A multifaceted tool

The DrillX program hinges on three themes.As a new ally in our operations, DrillX provides numerous other functions for the teams. In particular, its Smart Engineering component can be used to facilitate and improve well design. David Vavasseur adds: “Thanks to the power of artificial intelligence, we can now automate many more steps in the well design process. DrillX retains a memory of our previous developments and as a result we can draw lessons from the past and ensure we don’t replicate errors that occurred at other sites.”

Although the tool has already proved its worth at every site operated by TotalEnergies’ Exploration & Production business, numerous studies are underway to identify new applications that could generate value. For example, researchers are currently studying how the DrillX program could also be used to identify more accurately the source of greenhouse gas emissions during operations and thereby help reduce those emissions. “With DrillX, it really is accurate to say the sky’s the limit! We’re aware that we’re far from having explored and exploited the tool’s full potential. Our cross-functional teams, including drillers, engineers, developers and data scientists, have mobilized to take our experiments as far as possible.”

The DrillX program  hinges on three themes.

The DrillX program hinges on three themes.