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ExxonMobil: Rig technologies must be differentiated between what’s needed and what’s not

The industry can and must improve its safety and economics through the development and application of new rig technologies, Andre Luyckx, Upstream Drilling and Subsurface Manager for ExxonMobil, said at the 2016 IADC Advanced Rig Technology Conference in Galveston, Texas. “If the rigs that we operate aren’t safe and they’re not profitable, they’re nonstarters,” Mr Luyckx said in a keynote address on 13 September. However, the industry must be careful to differentiate which technologies are needed for each project.

“We aren’t always good at differentiating what we need and what we don’t,” he said. To avoid adding expense through unnecessary technology, Exxon has implemented a concept called minimum kit. “When we start a project, we really focus on what the objectives of it are. What’s the minimum we need to make this project go?”

He pointed to ExxonMobil’s work on Sakhalin Island to illustrate the value of the minimum kit approach. The company’s second rig on the island was mobilized this summer. When it was originally conceived, it featured a double-decker pipe barn and three times the mud volume needed for one well. However, the infrastructure that was in place on the island wouldn’t support the “behemoth” rig.

ExxonMobil scrapped the original design and instead looked to another rig that had been successfully operating on the island for 15 years. “We built this rig inside our cost and schedule and met the commitments we needed to get it out this summer,” Mr Luyckx said. “The bottom line here is to make sure we differentiate where we use our technology.”

Ensuring the reliability of technologies is also critical. “Just last year alone, for example, we spent $800 million in NPT on equipment downtime,” Mr Luyckx said. He noted that about 20% was devoted to pulling BOPs when something went wrong. “Reliability needs to be better; simplicity needs to be improved,” he said, adding that the industry must learn to be profitable in any environment. “We have to learn to be profitable within this real of possibilities and in this landscape,” he said.

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