2009Safety and ESGSeptember/October

Odfjell Drilling pursues responsible, green rigs with integrated operations, onshore support

By John C. Mck. Skeggs and Erick N. Larson, Odfjell Drilling

It cannot be denied that drilling contractors are involved in an extractive industry where it is not possible to put back what has been taken out. We are drilling holes for our clients, who are searching for a finite resource that some day will run out.

Our activity is therefore not sustainable. So what moral obligation does this put drilling contractors under, if any?

First and foremost, as responsible citizens, we have a duty of care. We have a duty of care with respect to the environment; that means we shall reduce harm to the environment to a level that is as low as reasonably practicable.

What does that mean exactly?

Translated in to practice, this means that drilling contractors need to focus on drilling safely and efficiently.

By safely, here we mean drilling holes with the least possible damage to the environment.

By efficiency, we mean the relationship between a process and the resources necessary to carry out that process. If we can drill the same hole in 20 days rather than 25 days, then we are being more efficient, and in doing so, we are reducing the amount of resources required. We’ll be using less diesel, less consumables, fewer flights, fewer vessels and so forth. One cubic meter of diesel produces around 3.2 tons of CO2, so every efficiency saving reduces our carbon footprint.

Efficiency also means using the best available technology (BAT). Sometimes the best available technology can be prohibitively expensive, so we employ the EVABAT principle – “economically viable application of best available technology.”

Using modern techniques, Odfjell Drilling maximises the use of onshore operation centres that allow collaboration between onshore and offshore, between different geographical locations, and among service companies, vendors and clients. Onshore operation centres have the potential to maximise input from onshore, allow those offshore to work more efficiently and enhance performance. Such onshore planning and support to offshore operations reveal that a green effort toward offshore operations begins long before a rig is on site.

Figure 1: Four operations on the Ekofisk field are monitored from this onshore ope-
rations centre in Stavanger, Norway. The more support that the rig can receive from land
means that personnel offshore have more time to focus on operations. Supervisors can
spend less time on administration and can be out on the rig supervising.

We call this approach integrated operations (IO). The term “IO” has many definitions and implications, but for Odfjell, simply stated, it is “the way we  work.” It is neither technology in itself, nor a single milestone. The company has perceived many possible quantitative and qualitative benefits from IO. Conveniently, these include both commercial and HSE benefits.

Figure 2: Collaborative visualisation software allows activities or items on the rig to be seen in relationship to one another onshore.

The company’s efforts toward IO have required significant effort in refining our work processes and organisational structures beyond the obvious investments in technology and communication system upgrades. These efforts are based on corporate strategy, commercial opportunities and constraints, BAT and, last but not least, organisational capacity.

Figure 3: Cameras are strategically placed throughout a rig and can be accessed from land to show the current status.

Equipment used includes video conference, smartboards, data-sharing software, real-time data, document cameras, closed-circuit TV and UHF.
Figure 1 shows an onshore operations centre in Stavanger, Norway, where four operations on the Ekofisk field are being monitored.

The company is still optimising the full potential of IO, and benefits have already been seen. These include:

• Reduced flights through the use of video conferencing for meetings.
• Planning processes removed from offshore and placed on land.
• Troubleshooting done by experts from land instead of having to wait for them to arrive on the rig by helicopter.
• Investigations of incidents can be started almost immediately from land, in some instances.
• Audits can be conducted by interview from land and evidence scanned and sent in from the rig.
• Condition-based maintenance can be monitored from land.
• Improved planning can reduce supply boat activity.
• Reduced personnel offshore reduces helicopter seats and reduces risk.

The more support that the rig can receive from land means that personnel offshore have more time to focus on operations. Supervisors need to spend less time on administration and can be out on the rig supervising.

The onshore support centre can view the information seen on the rig in real time, and collaboration rooms link up locations across the globe as required.

Cameras strategically placed throughout a rig can be accessed from land to show current status. Portable cameras are also used offshore to assist in troubleshooting from land.

Collaborative visualisation software allows activities or items on the rig to be seen in relationship to one another onshore.

Figure 4: Odfjell Drilling uses the concept of integrated operations (IO) to improve HSE and efficiency.
This has required significant efforts in refining work processes and organisational structures.

In addition to the use of IO, Odfjell is in the process of renewing its fleet, which results in every environmental aspect being put under consideration to ensure we can drill while doing the least harm to the environment possible.

This means that the new rigs aim for zero discharge to sea, low NoX engines, closed BOP control systems, etc. This, together with highly efficient rigs with dual capability, will help us to reach our environmental goals.

The way forward is an optimised number of people offshore, more support and planning from land and more use of collaborative technology. This increases safety levels and improves efficiency, thus reducing our carbon footprint.

John Skeggs is quality assurance director with Odfjell Drilling. This article is based on a presentation at the 2009 IADC Environmental Conference & Exhibition, 12-13 May, Stavanger, Norway.  DC

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