Link to article at the bottom.  There is a video of the rig.

First Fully Automated Land Rig Drills First Well

by Andreas Exarheas    Rigzone Staff Tuesday, October 12, 2021 

The well was drilled to a total measured depth of 19,917 feet.

Nabors Industries Ltd. (NYSE: NBR) has announced that the world’s first fully automated land drilling rig has reached total depth on its first well, which was for ExxonMobil in the Permian basin.

XTO Energy, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil, contracted the rig to drill three horizontal wells on a test pad in Midland County, Texas, as part of its own research and development efforts and commitment to safe, efficient and responsible operations, Nabors highlighted. The first well was drilled to a total measured depth of 19,917 feet, Nabors revealed, adding that the companies do not plan to publish performance data and results.

Dubbed PACE®-R801, the rig combines Nabors proprietary Smart Suite of automated drilling software with Canrig® robotics, Nabors outlined. The crew size on the PACE®-R801 is said to be similar to other Nabors rigs, albeit with changed duties. One driller is required to supervise the operations of the rig while others continue to perform essential tasks, such as service, maintenance, inspections and rig moves, Nabors highlighted. The asset has an unmanned rig floor that removes crews from red zone areas and delivers consistent, predictable drilling performance, the company noted.

A video of the PACE®-R801 rig in operation can be seen below.

“There’s nothing else in the world like the PACE-R801 concept rig,” Anthony Petrello, the chairman, president and chief executive officer of Nabors, said in a company statement.

“Its combination of advanced automation, digitalization and robotics represents a trifecta solution for an industry pursuing the highest levels of safety, efficiency and environmental performance in order to attain ESG goals. Thank you to all our employees, partners and stakeholders that helped make this a reality,” he added.

“Successfully drilling with the world’s first fully automated land drilling rig marks the culmination of a five-year engineering journey for Nabors. The experience and insights gained from this concept rig will be used to forge the next generation of Nabors technology and to continuously improve the digital, automation and robotics solutions we already have in the field,” Petrello went on to say.

Jason Gahr, the operations manager for unconventional drilling at ExxonMobil, said, “ExxonMobil’s collaboration with Nabors in deploying this automated rig in Midland demonstrates the ability to optimize drilling using the combined power of robotics, automation, computing and data”.

“This is a great example of enhancing the safety, efficiency and environmental performance of our operations through innovative technologies,” Gahr added.

XTO Energy is the most active operator in the Permian basin, according to its website, which highlights that the company is a leading oil and natural gas producer in the United States with expertise in developing tight gas, shale gas and unconventional oil resources. XTO or its affiliates operate in all major U.S. unconventional producing regions and Western Canada, the company’s website shows.

Nabors owns and operates one of the world’s largest land based drilling rig fleets and is a provider of offshore platform rigs in the United States and numerous international markets, its website notes. The company has several automated services, including directional automation, drilling automation, automated surface equipment and automated floor systems.

https://www.rigzone.com/news/first_fully_automated_land_rig_drills_...

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Interesting

Yes, the technology is interesting.  The other side of this coin however is fewer jobs in the drilling industry and fewer positions for those without some relevant college degree. 

I read that last week only I noted this part:

Dubbed PACE®-R801, the rig combines Nabors proprietary Smart Suite of automated drilling software with Canrig® robotics, Nabors outlined. The crew size on the PACE®-R801 is said to be similar to other Nabors rigs, albeit with changed duties. One driller is required to supervise the operations of the rig while others continue to perform essential tasks, such as service, maintenance, inspections and rig moves, Nabors highlighted. The asset has an unmanned rig floor that removes crews from red zone areas and delivers consistent, predictable drilling performance, the company noted.

I'm sure the PR firm put that in there to avoid the job loss questions.  What's probably a more important trend than the number of jobs if the types of jobs and the requirements for greater educational attainment for those workers.  A trend that will likely continue.  Automation is changing more than what happens on the rig floor.

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