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Non-Stop Well Monitoring: How to Improve it

Non-stop? Deterministic? Autonomous? 100% accuracy? Is it a pipe dream or are we well on the way? Pardon the pun.

This article delves into the concept of non-stop well monitoring, exploring its significance, the challenges associated with traditional methods, and how advanced systems can improve and modernize well monitoring practices.

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Well monitoring is a critical aspect of drilling operations, providing essential data on fluid volumes and pressures within the wellbore. However, interruptions and inacuracies in monitoring can lead to undetected issues, escalating risks, and inefficiencies. This article aims to highlight the importance of non-stop well monitoring, how it works, and why it is essential for modern drilling operations. The article looks at current industry standards, the challenges of continuous monitoring, and the benefits of adopting non-stop well monitoring practices.

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What is Well Monitoring?

Well monitoring involves the continuous observation and measurement of various parameters within the wellbore, primarily focusing on fluid volume, pressure, and flow rates. This process is crucial for maintaining control over the drilling operation and ensuring safety and efficiency. The main objective of well monitoring is to detect any changes that might indicate potential issues such as a kick, which is an influx of formation fluids , or losses which can occur when the drilling fluid escapes into the formation.

See also: Does automatic kick detection exist?

Key Components of Well Monitoring

Well monitoring involves several components to ensure continuous and accurate data collection. Fluid volume measurement is crucial, using paddles in the flow line to gauge the flow rate of drilling fluid returning from the wellbore, providing real-time data to detect anomalies. Volume sensors in the pits monitor the level of drilling fluid, identifying significant changes that may indicate a problem. The trip tank is, together with the trip sheet, essential for tracking fluid volumes during tripping operations.

Pressure monitoring within the wellbore ensures that the hydrostatic pressure from the drilling mud is sufficient to balance the pressure from the surrounding formations, preventing kicks and fluid loss (too little or too much hydrostatic pressure). Flow rate measurement can be effectively handled by Coriolis flow meters, which provide precise data during circulating conditions.

One of the most critical aspects of well monitoring involves observing changes in the volume within the flowline. The flowline acts as a buffer tank, and there is often a delay in measurement. For example, it can take approximately one minute for the fluid to flow through the flowline to the trip tank.

Challenges with Traditional Well Monitoring

Traditional well monitoring methods, while effective under certain conditions, face significant challenges that can impact data accuracy and reliability, especially during specific drilling operations and in harsh environments.

During tripping operations, when the drill string is inserted or removed from the wellbore, traditional monitoring struggles to maintain accurate fluid volume measurements. Manual trip sheets, prone to human error, track fluid volumes, but factors like drilling mud compressibility, cuttings, and irregular drill string shapes can cause volume discrepancies. Additionally, traditional methods rely on periodic checks, causing delayed responses to issues. Tripping operations are especially important to track because of the effect surge and swab has on the pressures in the well

Environmental conditions, such as significant rig movement offshore, complicate measurements, leading to false readings or missed events. Variations in drilling fluid flow and standard sensor limitations, which may not provide real-time data, further compromise monitoring accuracy.

Equipment and human factors also pose challenges. Over time, mud pumps and flow meters suffer wear and tear, leading to inconsistent performance and increased maintenance needs. Manual processes are prone to human error, with fatigue and inexperience contributing to inaccuracies in data collection and interpretation.

Gaps in monitoring occur due to intermittent data collection, creating gaps during non-circulating phases or between manual checks. Without continuous monitoring, small kicks or influxes can go unnoticed until they escalate, posing significant safety and operational risks.

Read more: 8 consequences of late kick detection in drilling operations

Consequences of Monitoring Gaps

Monitoring gaps in well operations can lead to severe safety and efficiency issues due to interruptions or inconsistencies in data collection. Undetected formation fluids can expand unnoticed and escalate into serious problems. Gaps in monitoring result in inaccurate fluid volume measurements, which can mask the well's true condition and delay critical responses.

These cause uncertainties, increasing rig time as operations pause for manual checks. Variations in the flowline can cause significant inaccuracies and delays in detecting changes in the well's condition, further complicating monitoring efforts. Inefficient resource utilization raises operational costs and reduces efficiency. Environmentally, undetected kicks can in a worst case scenario cause pollution, harming marine life and natural resources, and lead to regulatory compliance issues, fines, and legal action.

Economically, handling influx and loss creates extra rig time, uncontrolled pressures and flows can damage drilling equipment, leading to costly repairs and potentially the loss of the well and investment.

Discover: How to improve volume control and influx detect with less experienced crews

Is It Possible to Eliminate Monitoring Gaps?

Eliminating monitoring gaps in well operations is a challenging yet essential objective to ensure continuous, accurate, and reliable data collection. To effectively eliminate these gaps, an advanced and comprehensive monitoring system is required.


  1. Compensation for Rig Movements:
Heave, Roll, and Pitch: An advanced monitoring system must be capable of compensating for rig movements, including heave, roll, and pitch. This ensures that data remains accurate even under challenging offshore conditions.
  1. Handling Operational Transitions:
Tripping Operations: Real-time volume tracking and automated data collection during tripping reduce human error and increase the reliability of fluid volume measurements.
  1. Monitoring During Non-Circulating Phases:
Static Conditions: A system that produces volumetric measurements during non-circulating events providing you with continuous dynamic flow checks which eliminates the need for prolonged waiting periods. You gain real-time insights into flow rates, ensuring that any anomalies are detected immediately.
  1. Advanced Sensor Integration:
Surface-Based Sensors: These sensors monitor the conditions directly on the well (instead of the trip tank or flowline) and provide continuous data, ensuring accurate readings even when downhole sensors are impractical.
  1. Data Processing and Analysis:
Advanced Algorithms: Sophisticated algorithms filter out noise and compensate for disturbances, providing clear and accurate data.
  1. Automated Alerts and Responses:
Immediate Notifications: Automated alerts notify operators of significant changes or anomalies, ensuring prompt responses. More importantly, an advanced system not only informs but removes the need for interpretation
  1. Comprehensive Coverage:

All Phases of Drilling: The monitoring system should cover all phases of drilling operations, ensuring continuous data collection.

Check out: How to reduce workload for drilling personnel

Solutions: EC-Monitor™

Enhanced Drilling's EC-Monitor™ provides a cutting-edge solution to the challenges of traditional well monitoring by using advanced technology for continuous, accurate, and reliable data collection. It compensates for rig movements such as heave, roll, and pitch through advanced sensors and algorithms, ensuring data accuracy and removing the need for interpretation.

The EC-Monitor™ offers continuous monitoring even during non-circulating operations with its inline trip-tank design, which absorbs volume fluctuations for consistent measurements. Sophisticated algorithms process real-time data, filtering out noise and disturbances to provide clear, accurate information.

Automated alerts notify operators of significant changes or anomalies, ensuring prompt responses. The system integrates seamlessly with existing rig infrastructure, offering a comprehensive view of well conditions. Continuous monitoring reduces the need for periodic checks, minimizing flat-time and improving operational efficiency. This efficiency leads to significant cost savings by reducing operational time and improving overall productivity.

Read also: How does EC-monitor work

Benefits of Non-Stop Monitoring

Non-stop monitoring significantly enhances the safety, efficiency, and overall effectiveness of drilling operations. It ensures early detection of anomalies, allowing immediate action to prevent escalation and reducing human error by minimizing the need for manual data interpretation. The faster you can detect and confirm an irregularity, the faster you can react, and the more time you will save.

Operational efficiency improves as non-stop monitoring eliminates the need for periodic checks, enabling seamless operations and better-informed decision-making through real-time data. This continuous monitoring also leads to substantial cost savings by reducing flat-time and operational expenses, while early detection prevents costly incidents such as blowouts and environmental spills.

The elimination of manual interpretation is another key benefit, with systems like EC-Monitor™ providing clear and unambiguous data, streamlining decision-making and enabling quicker responses. Non-stop monitoring also contributes to environmental protection by preventing incidents, ensuring regulatory compliance, and minimizing the environmental impact of drilling operations through early detection and response.

Finally, non-stop monitoring increases reliability and data accuracy, offering consistent data quality and enabling comprehensive analysis for predictive insights.

See webinar: Introducing the EC-Monitor™


Non-stop well monitoring represents a significant advancement in drilling technology. By providing continuous, real-time data and compensating for rig movements and eliminating other uncertainty factors, systems like the EC-Monitor™ enhance safety, improve operational efficiency, and ensure accurate data collection. Investing in advanced non-stop monitoring solutions is crucial for the long-term sustainability and success of your drilling operations.

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