Well drilling and construction

Count of technologies (Operators plans, total 884)

Although the total number of drilling technologies reported has declined by a third since the 2017 stewardship survey, Well Drilling and Construction maintains its position as a prominent area of operator focus.  Reported spend on drilling technology has grown year on year, currently accounting for 14% of operator’s technology budgets and a position in the top quartile of spend categories.  New drill bit design, intelligent completions, well stimulation, and drilling fluids handling all feature in the returns as operators are:

  • Drilling more difficult wells
  • Looking for solutions to lower overall well costs
Bar Chart

Well drilling & construction (127)

Pie Chart

Operator’s submissions under Well Drilling and Construction were analysed using nine technology sub-categories with Drilling Equipment featuring most frequently (43%).

Technology Sub-Categories
2.1 Well Design & Planning
2.2 High-angle and ERD
2.3 Multilaterals
2.4 Drilling equipment
2.5 MWD, LWD & Geosteering
2.6 Drilling, casing and cementing
2.7 Well Equipment
2.8 Stimulation
2.9 Completions and artificial lift

Well drilling accounts for the bulk of technology demand when combined with other drilling processes (e.g. MWD, LWD & Geosteering, High angle ERD, Multilaterals and Drilling, Casing & Cementing). Well completion technology accounts for just under a third of reported technologies with Well design and planning related solutions making up 13% of the total in this category confirming its relative importance to the overall well delivery process.

Digital technologies, particularly in drilling processes and equipment account for 9% of reported technologies including:

  • Drilling equipment featuring automated drilling control systems
  • Enhanced predictive maintenance capability
  • Project management software using machine learning for automated well planning

Further Information



Technology maturity (Operators plans)

The drilling sector is heavily reliant on available solutions with existing technology accounting for 60% of technology solutions reported.

With a further 20% coming from products and services at either early commercialisation or late development/pilot stages that trend is likely to continue.

tech maturity 1


Technology delivery (Operators plans)

With the reliance on using available technology, the supply chain plays a dominant roll in delivery with 77% of technical solutions sourced from vendors.

The supply chain further contributes through partnership with operators providing 9% of solutions at all stages of technology development.

Wider collaboration for technology delivery is limited, with participation in a small number of JIPs and Net Zero Technology Centre programmes reported by operators. In-house development is focussed on providing niche solutions.

tech delivery 1

Technology Sub-Categories

Well Design and Planning

Well Design and Planning technology appears less reliant on existing technologies with a good number of technologies at Early Commercialisation and Late Development/Pilot levels of maturity being reported by operators. 

Software solutions including Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence technologies related to well planning and prediction of drilling issues are emerging while ongoing focus on HPHT challenges and wellhead/riser fatigue are the subject of multiple entries.

Number of technologies by operator

tech by operator pie 1

Technology maturity​

7 - Existing Technology (47%)
5 - Early Commercialisation (33%)
2 - Undefined (13%)
1 - Late Development/Pilot (7%)

Application Exemplars​

Existing Technologies:
  • Drillplan – Automated engineering and design validation using a common system to access engineering calculations, workflows and data sources saving engineering time by automation of repetitive tasks or multiple simulations and cross-checking the impact of design changes. (BP)
  • i-Trak drilling automation monitoring system -Accurate monitoring of drilling progress with automatic alarms and events, benefits include increased recovery, reduction in lost time and rig hire costs. (Chrysaor)
Emerging Technologies:
  • Quickvision – Remote sensing used to support real-time conductor setting using ROV to precisely measure and monitor height, inclination and orientation of conductors. Camera equipped ROV tracks a uniquely coded pattern negating the need for bracket mounted sensor packages. (Chrysaor)
  • Infosys drilling project management software - intelligent drilling and well monitoring, real time drilling and process management services reducing NPT, improving operational efficiency and reducing operational support costs (Chrysaor)

Drilling Equipment

Accounting for over 40% of the drilling technologies section, drilling equipment is unsurprisingly an area of key technology application for operators with heavy reliance on existing technologies in this category (67%). Although much focus is on traditional drilling challenges such as bit performance, drilling fluids handling, drilling parameter data acquisition and rig facilities (top drive, BOP, camera monitoring), digital and data applications appear across all levels of technology maturity. These include digital well planning, collaborative working solutions, operational safety, preventative maintenance, real time data analysis and automated drilling control.


Number of technologies by operator

drilling equipment pie 1

Technology maturity​

36 - Existing Technology (67%)
7 - Undefined (13%)
5 - Late Development/Pilot (9%)
4 - Early Commercialisation (7%)
2 - Early Development (4%)

Application Exemplars​

Existing Technologies:
  • Kymera Hydrid bits  - the combined cutting action of polycrystalline diamond and tungsten carbide inserts and extended rollers improves ROP, steerability and durability in high torque/WOB applications   (Apache)
  • MudCube – fully enclosed lightweight fluid handling system using high rate airflow through a rotating filter bed to reduce emissions and fines generation while improving mud solids recovery (Equinor) 
Emerging Technologies:
  • Wired drill pipe – High speed bi-directional data transfer facilitates real-time decisions during drilling operations with particular advantage in harsh environments or complex drilling. High speed transmission particularly supports data driven activities including surveys, downlinks and slide orientations. (Equinor, Chrysaor)


Well Equipment

Well Equipment technology is mainly catered for by existing technology with a contribution from Late Development/Pilot products.  Operators are focussing on demanding well conditions with ultra HP/HT wellhead and high torque liner systems areas of particular interest.

Addressing challenges of wellhead equipment compatibility between vendors and alternatives to rig installation of Christmas trees using monohull vessels reflect focus on economic challenges associated with well construction.  Operators are also focussed on well barrier management solutions to help reduce rig time and maintain safe operation when some well barrier elements are compromised.


Number of technologies by operator

well equipment pie chart

Technology maturity

9 - Existing Technology (60%)
3 - Undefined (20%)
2 - Late Development/Pilot (13%)
1 - Early commercialisation (7%)

Notable examples​

Existing Technologies:
  • Gas Ingress Isolation Valve – limits gas migrating into to hydraulic control lines of surface controlled DHSV with failed piston rod seals. Positioned close to the wellhead, it functions as a non-return valve when the DHSV is de-energised to prevent liberated gas migrating back into the hydraulic control system. The valve reopens automatically when hydraulic pressure is applied. (Apache)
Emerging Technologies:
  • Remote Valve Technology - eMotion-LV computer controlled full-bore barrier valve can be repeatedly opened and closed by remote command. It is permanently deployed as part of the tubing to be used as a downhole barrier during completion placement operations, significantly reducing rig times (Total)


Completions and Artificial Lift

This category has a very high dependence on existing technology. Operators are focused on enhancing safe operation of wells and addressing well integrity challenges through use of wellhead annular safety valve technologies.

Interest in the deployment of inflow control devices (ICV, ICD, AICD) to aid reservoir management features strongly in the returns. Artificial lift selection for heavy crudes is an area of operator interest which could address a major field development challenge. Technologies at early commercialisation hold promise to better utilise conductors for multiple production bores and successful deployment of sand control equipment in open hole. 

well equipment pie chart

Technology maturity

11 - Existing Technology (79%)
2 - Early Commercialisation (14%)
1 - Undefined (7%)

Application Exemplars​

Existing Technologies:
  • Master Surface Annulus Safety Valve (MSAS™) - Installed in the wellhead VR profile it operates as an actuated (fail-safe closed) barrier valve in gas lift applications, or safety/bleed valve in wells where sustained annulus pressure needs to be managed. Can be retrofitted in live wells. (Apache)
  • Inflow control devices (ICDs) – Available from several vendors, ICDs are used in horizontal or highly inclined wells to equalise inflow to improve sweep and delay water breakthrough by distributing different sizes of fixed choke points along the length of the well. Autonomous versions (AICD) utilise fluid physics to vary the choking effect to discriminate between fluid phases. Models are in development to better predict near- and in-well effects for reservoir simulators. (Equinor ASA)
Emerging Technologies:
  • Adjustable Torque Limiter (ATL) – Aims to avoid damaging downhole equipment by limiting the transfer of excessive torque loads when running completions, screens or clean up strings in complex or ERD well paths. When a predetermined torque limit is reached rotation below the ATL is prevented while allowing full rotation of the string above the ATL. (Chrysaor)

Functional Categories


The technologies referred to in this report are for illustrative purposes only and other technologies may be available. The OGA does not directly or indirectly endorse, recommend or guarantee any entity, product or technology referred to in this report.