IIT Guwahati and IDT ONGC sign Technology Licensing Agreement with Softdrill Solutions Pvt. Ltd. to create an Advanced Real-Time Operational Solution for Oil and Gas Well Drilling Operations

GUWAHATI: Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati’s team of researchers has developed a novel Decision Support System for Oil & Gas Drilling under a collaborative R&D project funded by the Institute of Drilling Technology, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited. The system based on the application of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and hybrid model-based diagnostics and data analytics algorithms will significantly reduce the non-productive time during exploration and drilling projects in the Oil & Gas industry.

The team led by Dr. Senthilmuruan Subbiah, Professor from the Chemical Engineering Department, IIT Guwahati has developed and demonstrated a real-time well drilling monitoring and Decision Support System tool, which will make use of existing data to enable real-time multi-objective optimization (MOO) of drilling parameters and operators choosing a feasible and optimal solution in real-time. This project was executed during 2019-2020. The team has also developed optimal preventive maintenance schedules for drilling units using AI/ML techniques for making complicated decisions. Under this project, energy and carbon audit methods for drilling operation to benchmark rig performance have also been developed. The team has filed an application for an Indian patent protecting the novelty and utility of the innovations from this project.

The Technology Licensing Agreement signing ceremony was carried out in virtual mode, Prof Krishnamoorthy, Dean Industrial Interaction and Special Initiatives IIT Guwahati welcomed the dignitaries from IDT-ONGC, IITG, and Softdrill Solutions. He set the context highlighting the history of the previous collaborative R&D project between IITG and IDT-ONGC that led to the current TLA with Softdrill Solutions for industry use. He also mentioned that IITG has been leading and is very active in R&D partnerships with industry and technology transfers for commercial use.

Prof Vimal Katiyar, Dean R&D, IIT Guwahati highlighted the fact that IIT Guwahati has been the Centre of Excellence in R&D for the Oil & Gas industry, being funded on many projects by ONGC, OIL, and other Indian oil companies. By virtue of its research leadership, IIT Guwahati has been globally ranked 41 in QS Ranking for research in Petroleum Industry. He further said that IIT Guwahati has the necessary expertise in various domains in different Departments and Centres to cater to the need of the oil and gas industry. IIT Guwahati is also indulging very much in indigenous technology development, not only for drilling but for other areas as well. Congratulating the IDT-ONGC team and IITG research team led by Prof Senthilmurugan, he appreciated that the TLA signed is a very important milestone and will be useful for the oil industry.

Mr. Venkateswaran G, HOI IDT-ONGC brought out the importance being given by IDT-ONGC for Industry-Academia relationship and developing technologies through collaborative R&D projects funded by IDT-ONGC. He mentioned that the project Decision Support System for Drilling Operations that led to this new TLA was initially funded by IDT-ONGC as a part of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The aim of the R&D project was to develop well monitoring for drilling supervisors and provide a timely prediction of the ‘well-behaviour’ and ‘well-complications’ so that corrective steps are taken to minimize the downtime of drilling operations. He also appreciated that a joint IITG-ONGC patent was filed out of this technology development project and this is one of the first patents going for commercialization through a Startup company. He also noted that Softdrill Solutions was found fit and qualified for funding under the ONGC Startup funding scheme, to take up the commercialization of the R&D outcome.

Highlighting the value of the developed decision support system, Prof Senthilmurugan Subbiah said, “Most of the existing Oil & Gas exploration and drilling projects use low automation / rudimentary & ad-hoc control room solutions. They are largely human/operator dependent for monitoring, diagnostics, and troubleshooting of downhole complexities and maintenance issues. Drilling takes place at suboptimal conditions based on previous driller experience and/or anecdotal rules. There is no existing automated auditing platform to report energy efficiency and benchmarking metrics for the drilling process. The net impacts are – increasing downtime of drilling operations, project schedule slippages, delays in commencement of good production, and compromised safety issues. Our R&D project has addressed these challenges and developed and demonstrated a prototype solution in a practical rig system with expert support from IDT/ONGC”.

Exhibiting confidence and looking forward to further innovating, developing, and commercially exploiting the R&D outcome through this TLA, Mr. Jaimin Patel, Director of Softdrill Solutions presented briefly on their commercialization plans and said that traditional DCS systems are large platforms with decades-old technologies which are increasingly difficult to maintain or upgrade due to rapid obsolescence. Hence, Softdrill would like to bring out AI/ML and IoT / cloud-based Smart Control Room solutions for drilling projects. The proposed product/solution is expected to significantly reduce the non-productive downtime and improve the overall profitability. Softdrill will focus initially on Indian Oil & Gas majors and in the future, other oil companies across the globe.  Mr. Jaimin firmly believes that this TLA is a huge opportunity for ‘Make in India & Go Global’ and for value creation across all segments of Oil & Gas industry drilling and also production operations in future”. He further requested closer cooperation and help in terms of field data and expert inputs from IDT-ONGC and IITG during the early phase of commercialization by Softdrill Solutions.

Softdrill Solutions Pvt Ltd., Udaipur, is an innovative Start-up company focused on bringing out intelligent solutions for Oil & Gas industry. The company also established its R&D center in IIT Guwahati, to leverage the expertise from faculty, research scholars, and also its various lab facilities for their projects. Their aim is to develop and commercialize AI/ML, data analytics, and cloud-based smart control room solutions to positively impact Oil & Gas industry by providing intelligent and optimal Oil-well drilling operations monitoring, diagnostics, and predictive management.

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