You must log in to edit PetroWiki. Help with editing

Content of PetroWiki is intended for personal use only and to supplement, not replace, engineering judgment. SPE disclaims any and all liability for your use of such content. More information

Drilling data management

Jump to navigation Jump to search

During the late 1960s, drilling data consisted of manual or mechanical recording systems and hard-copy paper reports completed by rigsite personnel. Computing technology has led to an explosion in the data that can be collected and must be managed for effective use and reporting.


Implementation of service-company, operator, and rig-contractor software systems has enabled the electronic capture of drilling and well-services operations and equipment data that provide significant value to engineers involved in:

  • Operations monitoring
  • Data analysis
  • Well planning
  • External reporting

Live capture of real-time data fed into engineering and geoscience systems has enabled asset-team members to make more-informed and timely decisions that positively affect wellbore placement, resulting in more-profitable wells for the operator.

Advancement of rigsite software systems has seen applications evolve from early mainframe to mini-computer systems to UNIX multitasking systems, Microsoft DOS applications, Microsoft Windows applications, and the current emergence of Intranet or Internet applications.

Early systems used by single operators developed in-house have now been replaced by customizable commercial systems shared by a large number of operators.

Data management and rigsite systems

The amount of data collected during the drilling of the well and on the rigsite has increased significantly. Operators, rig contractors and service companies all collect and manage large volumes of data. Types of data and how they are managed on the rigsite

On an even larger scale, many companies now use E&P project data management systems to provide a common database and integrate data across their operations.

Value from data

The shared use of information at the rigsite or data transmitted in real time or offline to the office is used for a variety of purposes that provide real value to the operator. Operators implement corporate stores of this information to realize several goals:

  • Enabling an open database to reliably store historical drilling, completion, and well-services information in a common data store.
  • Providing instant access to data across the organization.
  • Supporting consistent rigsite data capture and reporting across all operations.
  • Supporting the implementation of consistent data-quality methods and procedures.
  • Providing consistent output reports and electronic output formats.
  • Supporting multiple units of measure.
  • Enabling operations engineers to remotely oversee drilling and well-services operations.
  • Enabling operations statistics and performance benchmarks to be performed so that procedures requiring improvement can be identified.
  • Providing well planners with accurate historical operations-performance data with which to perform statistical risk analysis for future well operations.
  • Making informed decisions with greater effectiveness at the time they have to be taken.

Output reporting

From an operator’s perspective, the most immediate benefit of rigsite software systems that collate information is to enable consistent output reporting through all types of well operations and across all geographic areas. Daily well-operations information is required by:

  • Operations engineers supervising well progress
  • Fellow asset-team members
  • Senior managers
  • Materials management
  • Accountancy
  • Health, safety, and environment

Traditionally, operations reports have been faxed in from the rig or completed in the office using information provided from the rig by telephone. Increasingly, information-management systems allow operations-report data sets to be sent electronically from the rig to the office so that the data may be used in town. Hard-copy reports can then be distributed from the office, often generated through automated systems that filter data. Increasingly, electronic output report formats such as Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF) and dynamically populated Websites are used to disseminate well-operations information across the various disciplines.

In many regions, local or federal government agencies require well-operations and equipment information to be submitted as hard-copy or electronic reports so that the government has an accurate record of the well operation and completion. Hard-copy reports in government-required formats are easily generated from electronic information systems. Digital data-submission files also can be extracted from electronic data stores and formatted to the government requirement so that they may be uploaded directly into government master data stores. Examples of digital data submissions include the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate DDRS system for daily operations data and the Alberta Energy & Utilities Board Guide 59 Standard for event-summary data for each phase of well operations.

Wellbore schematics

Historical wellbore-equipment visualization based on field-entered data is a key requirement for many operators, who demand accurate wellbore-equipment schematic diagrams and reports to be automatically drawn from well-operations data. Some systems enable wellbore drawings to be generated directly from the operations reporting system data store for any phase of the wellbore life history. Other products allow detailed wellbore-equipment schematic diagrams to be constructed manually and associated to planned or actual equipment parameters. A completion manager enables slick wellbore drawings to be manually constructed. Well-services engineers in the office and in the field about to go on a job require the ability to quickly generate an up-to-date wellbore drawing that assists them in planning their next job.

Data analysis

The primary function of a well-operations database is to provide analysis of the captured data so that they may be used to improve future well operations. This enables the operator to use the information as a real asset that provides value. A well-organized well-operations data model should easily facilitate analysis through use of:

  • Simple Structured Query Language (SQL) queries
  • Summary output reports
  • Sophisticated data-analysis tools

This allows operator engineers to perform any kind of structured query for:

  • A variety of analyses
  • Performance benchmarking
  • Research
  • Collation of statistical information for corporate or government reporting

Typically, commercial software systems now provide data-analysis tools with which queries and analyses can be shared across the network. These systems store queries with the data so that they can be reused at any time.

Performance benchmarking

Well planners and operations engineers are often required to analyze the cost or operations performance of their drilling and/or well-services operations. These analyses may be performed to identify areas for improvement, as well as to identify operators or operations that are performing above or below standard, or they may be performed to compare various operator or contractor performances. Analyses may also be performed to compare different well-construction methods or technologies to evaluate their effectiveness. The electronic capture of data at the rigsite integrated into corporate reporting systems or data stores enables the operator to perform these types of analysis.

Technical-limit well planning and operations

A high-profile well-planning and operations-monitoring method used by an increasing number of operators is technical-limit drilling (TLD) or well services. The technical limit is defined as the most optimal well-construction process that allows the well to be drilled or serviced safely in as short a time as possible. The method is used to challenge well-construction teams to reach their objective safely while identifying performance bottlenecks or procedures that may be performed more quickly with other methods or technologies while achieving the same result. Many operators have formal technical-limit initiatives in place that enable the entire well-construction team to improve operational performance. A significant part of the TLD process is the historical analysis of comparable offset-well data, which allows the well-planning team to identify the most efficient procedures and best performance for each phase of the well operation. This analysis of historical data is enabled through the capture of operations or activity information at the rigsite. Without offset-well data, identification of the desired “gold medal” performance is difficult, if not impossible.

With a technical-limit operation plan defined for the new well operation, the actual execution of the well program may be compared to the technical-limit performance identified for each phase of the well operation. Deviations of actual performance from the technical-limit plan may be recorded for improved or degraded performance to identify more-efficient procedures or technologies, as well as reasons why targeted performance was not achieved. Recording this information enables future well-planning teams to incorporate these findings into future well designs.

Knowledge management

With historically inadequate replacement of employees leaving the industry, the oil field is currently witnessing decreased availability of experienced knowledge workers. The result is that fewer people are available to perform the same level of activity that has been performed previously. Additionally, other factors, such as a reduced occurrence of easy-to-find, accessible hydrocarbon reservoirs and an increased demand for hydrocarbons caused by an increasing population and more energy-demanding industries and technologies, have forced the industry to use increasingly more-complex operations methods, equipment, and technologies to replace existing hydrocarbon reserves. With the reduced availability of experienced knowledge workers, operators are looking at various technologies to enable their workforce to more effectively leverage the knowledge and experience retained within the corporation so that new or existing technologies, methods, and equipment may be used more efficiently.

Many operators and service companies are looking at knowledge-management best practices as a framework for capturing engineering experience, lessons-learned information, and results for various procedures and technologies. Storing this knowledge in an information-management system helps operators distribute it more effectively across the organization to maximize its value. Different types of knowledge-capture systems are being implemented across the industry, including the rigsite, where immediate operational knowledge or experience may be recorded or referenced to improve operations. This enables service companies to more easily disseminate operations experience across the organization for their various product service lines and equipment. Operators are able to more easily share well-construction and well-planning experience across various operating regions. Information systems and other information technologies increasingly are being used to bring together experts of the same domain or discipline to form “networks of excellence” in which experience or other knowledge may be shared.


See also

Cuttings analysis during mud logging

Mud logging


Noteworthy papers in OnePetro

Buchan, Robert 1993. High-Pressure, High-Temperature Drilling: Data Management and Interpretation, SPE/IADC Drilling Conference, 22-25 February 1993, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 25764-MS,

Winther, A., Roper, D.J., and Sjaaholm, A.J. 1990. Concepts of Directional Drilling Data Management, Petroleum Computer Conference, 25-28 June 1990, Denver, Colorado, 20329-MS,

External links