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khou.com/news: Behind the scenes at Shell Oil

Shell Drilling Control Room

(Shell Oil shows off its drilling operations control center.)

07:05 PM CDT on Friday, April 27, 2007
By Dan Lauck / 11 News

Think of it as a mission to the dark side of the moon. A voyage into black, only rather than going up Shell Oil is going down. Six miles down.  

Eight to 10 years ago, their drilling plans were done by hand, on paper in black-and-white.

Now, with computer generated graphics to guide them Shell will drill beneath the Gulf of Mexico to a precise 3-D vision of a rock-encased field of oil.

“It can cost upwards of a million dollars a day to drill,” said Shell’s Dan Malouta.

That is when the things are going well.

From this brand-new facility, Shell monitors drilling operations from Oman to North Texas. The company gave 11 News exclusive access to the center.

On one monitor, the information warned that vibrations on one well had hit the red.

That information — which is never more than a quarter of a second old — may have prevented having to replace the bit.

“It all takes a tremendous amount of time and money on an off-shore drilling rig,” said Shell’s Eric Van Oort.

Shell has four hubs like this in the world. One in Scotland, one in Malaysia, another in New Orleans and one in Houston.

And from those four hubs, they plan and monitor the drilling of every well in Shell’s portfolio.

People like to call it space age technology. Maybe it is not. Maybe it is more advanced than that

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