OTC Spotlight Award: West Drilling moves toward fully robotized rig

This story profiles one of the Offshore Technology Conference’s 15 Spotlight on New Technology Award winners.

Like it or not, the world is moving toward automation. The drilling industry is no exception.

The last two decades have seen numerous advances in mechanization and automation of traditionally labor-intensive and dangerous tasks, but soon the industry may have its first fully robotized rig.

That’s how West Drilling Products is promoting its new Continuous Motion Rig, or CMR, which also offers the world’s first continuous drilling operation, meaning drillers can pull drill pipe and run casing without stopping the drilling process, potentially cutting drill time in half.

“It also eliminates down-hole problems associated with differential sticking and pressure fluctuations and reduces safety risk by removing all personnel from the rig floor,” said Odd Skjærseth, CEO of West Group. “The technology and associated equipment is designed to work together as one functional unit and thereby enables the development of a fully robotic drilling rig. The CMR rig will therefore be the world’s first drilling robot.”

West Group estimates the CMR, which is adaptable to jack-ups, floating and fixed platforms and drill ships, as well as land rigs, could cut overall drilling cost by up to 45 percent.

The CMR also cuts carbon dioxide emissions in half and, depending on the operator, could reduce overall rig personnel by 50 percent as well.

Read about more OTC Spotlight Award technologies: