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GE and Noble Corp launch world's first digital drilling vessel

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The digitalisation of the Oil & Gas industry continues apace with GE and Noble Corp launching the world’s first digital drilling vessel which, it is claimed, will achieve significant operational cost savings and improve drilling efficiency.
The Noble Globetrotter 1 is the world's first digital drilling vessel.
(Image via GE & Noble Corp).

In a telling statement, GE and Noble Corp explained that the digitalisation of drilling will improve efficiency and performance because:

“In the offshore industry, operators have commonly relied on individuals and manual processes- leading to significant performance inconsistencies and variance.”

The vessel, named the Noble Globetrotter I, will use GE’s Digital Rig solution which will expand data-driven operations support, while gaining visibility into drilling inefficiencies. Through this digital industrial technology, Noble has connected all targeted control systems, including the drilling control network, the power management system, and the dynamic positioning system on the vessel.

Noble is also leveraging GE’s digital twin technology- combining data models from a digital replica of a physical asset along with advanced analytics to detect anomalies, and offering early warning signs to equipment operators, who can then mitigate a problem before it strikes. This enables personnel both onboard the vessel and onshore to gain a holistic view of the entire vessel’s health status and real-time performance of each piece of equipment onboard.

The technology has already shown promising results, capturing major anomalies, and producing alerts to inform about potential failures up to two months before they would occur. GE and Noble are targeting to achieve up to a 20% reduction in operational expenditure on targeted equipment. And, by leveraging digital twin technology and predictive analytics, Noble’s offshore personnel can now focus their resources on maintenance activities that are truly needed and most effective- ultimately reducing unplanned downtime, improving revenue, and generating significant maintenance cost savings.

Bernie Wolford, senior vice president- Operations at Noble Corp, seems enthusiastic about the potential digitalisation has to transform the way Noble operates, even hinting at completely autonomous operations, saying:

“We are very excited to showcase the launch of the Digital Rig solution and the world’s first digital drilling vessel as we continue to expand data-driven operations support while gaining significant efficiencies in the drilling operations. The potential of digitalisation will go beyond a single vessel, opening the door to transforming our entire fleet. The data backbone paves the way towards autonomous drilling, and digital technology is facilitating a new era of drilling and asset performance improvements that are unprecedented.”

Andy McKeran, general manager, GE’s Marine Solutions also envisions an increasingly digital and autonomous future for the Oil & Gas industry, saying:

“Partnering with Noble, we are in a unique position to unlock synergies together- from drilling operations to equipment expertise and software analytics skills- to drive holistic transformation of the offshore industry. We are excited to be able to move an important step closer to achieving our vision of a more autonomous future for marine operations. Noble Drilling has been a vanguard of industry digitalisation, and today’s milestone is testament to how industry leaders can collaboratively transform the industry.”

Undoubtedly, this will be the first digital drilling rig of many… What do you think of digitalisation and autonomous operations in the Oil & Gas industry? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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GE and Noble Corp launch world's first digital drilling vessel - Time to read 3 min
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