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BP, Maersk push innovative partnership model to produce Project 20K rig

By Alex Endress, Editorial Coordinator

Michael Leary, Wells Director for BP’s Project 20K, talked about the operator’s unique partnership with Maersk Drilling to develop a 20,000-psi deepwater drilling rig at the 2015 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference on 19 March in London.

BP and Maersk Drilling continue to follow an integrated process to ensure the innovative design and smooth delivery of a new deepwater rig for the operator’s Project 20K. Speaking on 19 March at the 2015 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference in London, Michael Leary, Wells Director for Project 20K, detailed the collaboration between the two companies as they work to push past 15,000-psi pressures at the mudline. The joint effort, announced in early 2013, has allowed the operator and contractor to reach a better understanding of their mutual business and technical needs. “We will work safely together as partners and treat each other as equals in the process, and we will uncover new ways of approaching business challenges, collaboratively to create opportunities to mutually share value,” Mr Leary said.

“As we continue on this journey to enable the delivery of the next frontier of deepwater reserves in a safe, complaint and reliable way, both parties believe that additional value has been added through open communication, challenge and integration of the project teams working with each other on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Leary said.

He outlined the process that the two companies went through after BP selected Maersk as the Project 20K drilling contractor. “Both companies saw the potential in this collaboration together to deliver a uniquely capable rig to enable this work to be done,” he said.

Before starting on the design of the rig, BP and Maersk entered into a joint study agreement (JSA). Then, to further nurture cohesiveness, they added an Executive Committee to govern the JSA. “Because we envisioned that this was going to be a different way of working and that all of the potential issues could not be foreseen given the nature of the work and the collaboration that we were getting ready to embark on, we knew that it was difficult to address all those things within a contract,” Mr Leary said.

Representatives from both BP and Maersk sit on this committee, which serves both project oversight and steering functions. The group’s initial focus was to promote the team to help identify sources of value, as well as promote the innovation process. One deliverable was the establishment of a set of shared values: respect and uprightness, people, synergy and value creation.

As BP and Maersk continue to work on the rig design, the companies are prioritizing its goal of keeping the rig competitive with today’s sixth-generation rigs. “We had this mantra early on that we didn’t want to create this white elephant that really wasn’t going to be competitive in the marketplace, and the only reason for it to exist was because it could do these (15,000-plus psi) wells,” Mr Leary said. “We wanted it to be able to drill any well – any deepwater well that would be near this capability – and have it be competitive with the cost of what it would take to do it with a sixth-generation rig.”

Project 20K is a trademark of BP.

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