Photo: Representatives from the Ministry, with Tina Bru, The Minister of Petroleum and Energy

The Norwegian Minister of Energy and Petroleum visited NORCE and OpenLab today, and was impressed by the infrastructure in combination with Ullrigg at Ullandhaug.

-"We contribute, among other things, by digitizing and automating the oil and gas sector. This leads to safer and more efficient energy production, as well as increased recovery, which in turn contributes to the lowest possible carbon footprint", says Executive Vice President of NORCE Energi, Aina Margrethe Berg.

OpenLab is of great importance for research and commercial businesses that delivers new technologies for automated / autonomous drilling. New technology has proven to significantly reduce the CO2 footprint from the industry, and the potential is significant in the future. NORCE is now seeking funds to expand the OpenLab infrastructure to offer field data and to extend the simulation capabilities towards reservoir simulation and towards geothermal energy and CO2 storage.

Photo: Stig Morten Thorsen and Morten Ørevik (NOV) in OpenLab Drilling

Large expectations were put on NORCE since a successful demonstration would pave the way for an installation at Johan Sverdrup in the North Sea. Together with our collaboration partners Sekal and National Oilwell Varco (NOV) new functionalities was demonstrated. In addition to the license partners at Johan Sverdrup; Equinor, Total, Lundin, AkerBP and Petoro, several energy companies and service companies followed the live streamed presentation with great interest and expectations.

“We are very happy to have so many representatives from the industry following our work on automated drilling”, says Rodica Mihai, manager of the technology development in the Demo2000 project Demonstration of Automated Drilling Process Control. The Drilling and Well Modeling group in NORCE is world leading in this field and been an active contributor to reduce costs and emissions from drilling operations.

During the live event, a new functionality in the DrillTronics system was demonstrated. DrillTronics is developed by NORCE and Sekal (acquired by Sumitomo in 2019). The new functionality optimizes the drilling rate automatically and is a key enabler of autonomous drilling operations. The reduced CO2 emissions enabled by drilling automation is a key factor to reach the goal of zero emissions from offshore installations. Benoit Daireaux, who is project manager at NORCE is very pleased with the demonstration.
“We are very proud to have reached this milestone. The collaboration with Equinor and Sekal in the development project and with NOV in the integration with NOVOS has been very efficient. The system works as intended and we look forward to see this in operational use.”

Figure: The system developed by NORCE and Sekal automatically ensures the optimum drilling speed based on model predictions and operational constraints.

NOV has delivered the drilling control system installed at Johan Sverdrup, and the integration of DrillTronics as an app to their system is now prioritized. Recently, the Research Council of Norway has awarded a Demo2000 project for integration of DrillTronics to NOVOS.
The demonstration was run in the simulator environment OpenLab Drilling and showed the capability of the infrastructure. OpenLab is the most realistic drilling simulator in the world for testing new software systems. The simulator has been used extensively over several months by NORCE, Sekal and NOV for this event. OpenLab Drilling is financed by the Research Council of Norway.

“This successful outcome today is a result of very good collaboration between NORCE, Sekal and NOV, and OpenLab as a test facility. Through this project we have seen how OpenLab enables a more efficient workflow and accelerates readiness of technology. The complexity of this system and the integration by three vendors would not be possible without OpenLab.”, says Jan Einar Gravdal, project manager in NORCE.

OpenLab Grand Opening!

OpenLab Grand Opening!

Last week, around 50 guests from the oil industry, IT companies, universities and research institutions participated in the grand opening of the advanced well drilling simulator, OpenLab, at NORCE in Stavanger.


NORCE was awarded the assignment worth NOK 50 million by the Research Council in 2015. The OpenLab team comprises of the drilling & well modelling group in NORCE as well as IT consulting companies in Stavanger. Together, this small and dedicated team have collaborated closely with universities and the oil industry, to make OpenLab one of the world's most advanced simulators for training and technology development in digital drilling of oil and gas wells.

Easy access - increased knowledge, and better than the textbook

OpenLab was designed to be used for everyone and can just as easily be used by a lecturer in India, a student at the University of Calgary, or a drilling department in a company looking to test new methods, techniques and equipment.

With a full-scale drilling rig on site, and the University of Stavanger right up the street, drilling engineering and technology students can now come to NORCE to learn and get training in a realistic drilling environment. They can also use the simulation tool in their own drilling lab on campus.

To read more about OpenLab, visit our about About and Product pages, or try the simulator for free for yourself at!

And on behalf of NORCE and OpenLab, we would like to thank everyone who attended and especially Dan Sui and Mats Hermansen for presenting how they have being using OpenLab!

Some of the OpenLab team. From left: Robert, Thomas, Andrew, Kristian. Front: Nejm, Cecilie, Sonja, Otto. Not pictured: Jan Einar, Marcel, and Stian.

OpenLab Python Client

OpenLab Python Client

Introducing, the new OpenLab Python client! Programmatically interact with OpenLab Drilling data or create and control a new simulation with the free OpenLab Python API. You can download the package from our Downloads page here. Or if you have Python 3.4+, simply run the command “pip install openlab” from a command line to download the package. Once downloaded, follow the README instructions provided in the folder to get started. And read more about OpenLab here!

Creating a simulation is made easy

You can create a simple simulation or pass in more advance optional parameters like influx type or time step if a transient model is desired.

Running a simulation is even easier

Machine Learning

Utilize python’s rich library collections to interact with OpenLab as you want. Python shines with machine learning. In fact, the OpenLab Python client has already been utilized in the industry with machine learning (Ambrus and Saadallah 2018).

Jupyter/Teaching aid

Get to know both Jupyter notebooks and the OpenLab python client. The python package comes packaged with a Jupyter notebook section and several tutorials designed to be both a python teaching aid, as well as a guide on how to use the OpenLab python client.

Using these Jupyter notebooks, you can then share live simulation code snippets and run and share them with colleagues and classmates in a web browser.

Process Control

Drilling automation is all about process control. Use the provided PI Controller class or create your own controller to create complex simulations and explore control systems.

Example setup for the PI Controller
The example that comes with the python client utilizes the PI controller to maintain bottom hole pressures at different flow rates by automatically adjusting the choke opening

With the OpenLab python client, it is easy to get and interact with results and simulations however you want. Below are just a few more examples of the possibilities:

  • Compare 2 simulations that were run in the browser to isolate differences
  • Run a simulation with outside influence (e.g. drilling data from another program)
  • Much, much more

Try now for free at!

Who is using OpenLab:

  • University of Stavanger
  • NTNU
  • Aker BP
  • Maersk Drilling
  • Equinor
  • University of Calgary