Can AI help with drilling rig inspection and maintenance?

AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance is the good news for upstream industry because these procedures are critical for safety and optimum production. But they require massive budget, extensive planning and dangerous procedures that are filled with chemical and mechanical hazards. In fact, there has been many accidents that occurred due to inspection and maintenance operations.
The Piper Alpha disaster, probably the worst oil rig accident in history, is an example that occurred in July 1988 in Britain’s North Sea. The platform was in middle of a routine maintenance so pressure of safety valve was released. When the new shift came in, uninformed about the procedure, the workers turned on a pump which was silently leaking gas! It caught fire and initiated a series of explosions. The fire burnt for 3 weeks before it was extinguished. Unfortunately, 167 workers lost their life and the platform was destroyed!

Artificial intelligence has limitless capabilities that can help with drilling rig inspection and maintenance to speed up the process, reduce cost and most importantly optimize safety during procedures. AI-powered HSE management systems are the next generation tech that are revolutionizing oil and gas industry.
In this article, we will review AI capabilities that can help with drilling rig inspection and maintenance so managers and HSE professionals can make informed decisions.

AI capabilities for drilling rig inspection and maintenance

AI was built with the intention of simulating human intelligence but on greater scale since it has access to fastest CPUs that are evolving rapidly. AI has the advantage of freedom from emotions that drag humans into doubt and confusion and slow cognition power and speed. This allows artificial intelligence to maximize machine learning by analyzing massive amounts of data in fraction of time and finding patterns that are hidden to normal-peed cognition. The patterns are put together to find the optimal solution for each scenario.

In case of AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance, the scenarios are designed for different stages and regulations of MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul). The guidelines are issued by organizations related to safety and best practices such as OSHA, IADC and API. The stages relate to process of rig selection and operation such as pre-drill inspection to assess operational acceptability of the structure and design. Other inspections such as BOP, derrick and thermographic inspections are planned periodically for every 3-5 years in order to organize a big turnaround during a period of low product demand that might last few weeks or months. But ongoing inspection and maintenance during operation is also essential to keep integrity of equipment intact, bolts tightly in place, parts well lubricated and clean, corrosions and deposit formations well managed. These key procedures are scheduled on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to maximize safety of workers and operations.
The capabilities of AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance are many but the following 3 always stand out:

• Preventive analytics

Prevention is the key to safety and AI has learnt this lesson by training data it receives constantly from the industry. It learns about all parties involved in safety including humans, equipment, products, procedures and environment. It recognizes the repeating pattern through history and offers the optimal solution to prevent disasters resulting from small incidents.
AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance creates checklists for daily, monthly and annual procedures so nothing is missed. Preventive maintenance is based on scheduled intervals, to perform routine operations such as flushing tanks, tightening bolts, changing oils and lubricating parts so equipment remains at optimal condition and procedures are safe.

AI can help with predictive maintenance for drilling rig

• Predictive analytics

Prediction is based on the past event that might occur in the future and what conditions cause it. AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance is able to integrate with other systems such as sensors to analyze motion, current, vibration, pressure and temperature to determine how likely an event is or how reliable an equipment is based on historical data.
Predictive maintenance is about measurements, signal processing and oil & gas engineering and AI is a perfect match for such a data analyzing job!

After schedules are set, the execution starts that must go forward as planned. HSE professionals have a hard job at this stage since they should manage many corrective maintenance operations such as welding, sealing and adjusting that is taking place. But they can’t be in all places since they are subject to human limitations. In contrast, AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance, being a machine with high-speed processors and CCTV cameras, can watch over the operations in real time in all locations!
It can identify PPE violations since inspection and maintenance operations are filled with chemical and mechanical hazards such as exposure to particulate, excessive noise or abrasive surfaces and also getting struck by/caught between heavy objects, falling from elevated work stations and getting caught in a fire. AI can recognize these hazards and sound alarm just on time for the rescue team. AI is capable of detecting human errors in regard to safety and notifying managers to take action. It can identify dangerous behaviors such as ergonomic mistakes, standing on the edges, entry to red zones, smoking and talking on mobile phone.

AI can monitor maintenance operations in real time

It also knows the order of procedures and if any step is missing, a reminder is sent out to the team. For example, it knows that all hydraulic pressures should be released so equipment is de-energized during repair. Or the entire rig should be tagged out to prevent possibility of anyone operating any machine during overhaul.


AI for drilling rig inspection and maintenance is a gift of tech industry that can optimize safety due to its preventive analytics, predictive analytics and real time monitoring capabilities.
Intelligent HSE can overcome the limitations of current safety system and prevent unexpected shutdowns that are costly. Managers can schedule the optimum drilling rig inspection and maintenance that has minimum cost for investors and maximum safety for workers and environment.