here's the drill
A Houston startup has tapped into the know-how of three University of Houston professors to help improve oil and gas drilling operations.
The startup, DrillDocs, has licensed software developed by UH professors Jiefu Chen, Xuqing (Jason) Wu, and Zhu Han that enables real-time analysis of activity at onshore and offshore drilling rigs. Specifically, the software examines video to help classify the volume of cuttings from the shale-shaker components of drilling equipment.
According to the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, cuttings are small pieces of rock that are chipped away by a bit while a well is being drilled. The fragments then travel from the bit to the surface of the water, where they can be "caught" and studied. Drill cuttings often yield the only rock data gained from a well.
"Cutting analysis is an important task for an efficient, low-cost, and risk-free drilling execution," Chen says in a UH news release.
According to the news release, the UH software will study the cutting data to help DrillDocs customers "make more informed drilling decisions, reduce safety and environmental risks, and improve drilling performance and production."
Drilling technicians usually must repeatedly study cuttings manually, which can stifle progress and lead to human errors, according to UH.
Calvin Holt and Francois Ruel co-founded DrillDocs in 2020. The bootstrapped startup is developing the CleanSight system, which monitors shale-shaker components in an effort to reduce drilling costs and risks. DrillDocs' surface-based computer vision system can deliver data via laptops, smartphones, and other devices about the size, shape, and quantity of rocks floating to the surface.
In March, DrillDocs was identified as one of the four most promising startups that participated in a CERAWeek pitch competition.
"We're taking computer vision to the drilling rig," Holt, CEO of DrillDocs, said during his pitch. "Now, for the first time, drilling and geomechanics teams will have unique, real-time data to ascertain the well's condition."