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Enhanced Drilling was preparing to deliver its EC-Drill® Controlled Mud Level (CML) drilling system to a major international operator in the Norwegian Sea. Due to demanding project timescales, the client required Enhanced Drilling to deliver a turn-key solution for training and operational preparedness.


EC-Drill® is used during the drilling of wells on floating rigs with a narrow pressure window to reduce risk of influx or formation fracture. Due to demanding project timescales, the client required Enhanced Drilling to deliver a turn-key solution for training and operational preparedness to use the system, which was the first time Enhanced Drilling had been required to do so.

Applicable regulatory standards required stringent training methodologies to be employed in preparation for the operation. Specifically, the standards required the use of simulation to support practical training and rehearsals of the operational procedures to use EC-Drill®. To be compliant, and to deliver effective training, Enhanced Drilling would need to integrate their system with a drilling simulator with only four months until spud.

Further to the regulatory requirements, it was the first time EC-Drill® had been used by the operator in the region and therefore, none of the supervisory personnel had experience of the system. While some of the drilling contractor’s crew had used the system previously, they had not used it in two to three years. Lack of familiarity with the system posed risk of additional non-productive time and an escalating cost of well delivery.

In the absence of a simulator compatible with EC-Drill®, Enhanced Drilling faced risk of project delay due to lack of training infrastructure or a deviation from the regulatory requirement to train the crews.

A project was initiated with 3t Drilling Systems to integrate Enhanced Drillings EC-Drill® to 3t Drilling Systems’ immersive DrillSIM:6000 advanced drilling and well control simulator. The estimated project lead time for development was three months, leaving just one month for training of operational teams before spud. The risk of project delay was compounded by a Christmas holiday shutdown and complications because of COVID-19 quarantine requirements.

Firstly, data formulation and a communication protocol were agreed to enable both systems to communicate and coordinate process flow. The protocol was designed to minimise disruption to the internal working of the respective systems. EC-Drill® then treated the DrillSIM:6000 simulator as a real rig in terms of both equipment and well models. Enhanced drilling simulated Enhanced Drilling equipment, while the DrillSIM:6000 simulated rig equipment and well models.

Using the agreed protocol, a communication link between both systems was implemented using 3t Drilling Systems’ DrillSIM API framework that allows integration with external systems. Following implementation, the Enhanced Drilling technical team ensured accurate process representation and data integrity.

EC-Drill®’s P&IDs were then modelled within the DrillSIM:6000’s offshore rig software. Exact flow paths were replicated and integrated within the rig software’s standard mud system. CML system-specific components were modelled including the system’s subsea pump and riser pressure transducers. The system P&ID modelling was then fully integrated with the DrillSIM downhole model.

EC-Drill® controls the bottom hole pressure by maintaining the pressure inside the riser at a specified level. EC-Drill® was therefore integrated with the DrillSIM:6000 rig model’s mud system so

that EC-Drill® submersible pump would recognise mud pump changes to maintain a stable pressure inside the riser by having flow in versus flow out.

The DrillSIM:6000’s rig-specific HMI system was modified by adding additional trend monitoring lines for EC-Drill® parameters including CML pump rate, riser pressures and well control indicators. A further HMI system modification was implemented to allow the driller to oversee system parameters such as riser level set point, mud pumps setpoints, system valve conditions and CML pump position.

During integration Enhanced Drilling compared the behaviour of the DrillSIM software’s well modelling in response to system operations. Enhanced Drilling observed that the new integration on the DrillSIM:6000 was the most accurate EC-Drill® training simulation development to date.

The Outcome

By deploying a well-resourced development team, 3t Drilling Systems completed the development, system integration and acceptance in less than six weeks. This was less than half of the originally planned lead time and the fasted CML integration project completed between Enhanced Drilling and a simulator manufacturer so far. The accelerated training schedule allowed 100% of the crews to be trained before spud while working around Christmas holidays. There were no project delays and no contingencies required.

During the training delivery, both the DrillSIM:6000 and the Enhanced Drilling simulator exhibited no instability issues, crashes or bugs, and the interface between the two worked flawlessly. This assured maximum engagement among the operations team and an impactful immersive training experience.

The reliability of the simulator resulted in a 100% simulator uptime for the duration of training delivery. This contributed to the training project – including simulator integration and training delivery – being completed within budget.

Upon completion of site acceptance, the 3t Drilling Systems’ development team were redeployed, allowing the training to continue with only minimal remote support by 3t Drilling Systems’ technical support department. No on-site support by Drilling Systems was required for the duration of the training, helping to keep project costs to a minimum.

Operations completed and the operations team onboard the rig to use EC-Drill® with confidence and competence and required minimum intervention by Enhanced Drilling personnel. The operation team’s system knowledge following the training has led to 99.6% productive time of EC-Drill®.