Safeguarding rig integrity

October 26, 2010

When setting out to reshape itself from a jack-of-all-trades drilling contractor to one with a deepwater future, Pride International realized it had to do more than simply change up its fleet. With deepwater assets tending to feature longer contract cycles than shallow and mid-water rigs, the company needed to revise its asset integrity management philosophy. Jennifer Pallanich reviews the resulting alternative strategy.

Because of the nature of the high-tech rig market Pride entered when it started adding its ultra-deepwater newbuilds from Korea to the fleet, the company knew it would be running rigs on longer-term contracts and would therefore need to build an asset integrity management system in which integrity over a longer time frame was fundamental.

Pride's Gilles Bocabarteille, VP of asset management, says the company knew they would no longer ‘have the opportunity to pull the rig out of service, do the major overhaul and put it back into service' once it revamped its fleet to focus on deepwater assets (OE October 2009). ‘That shifted the parameters we were having to deal with.'

To support Pride's integrity efforts, it was necessary to keep a group dedicated to looking at the company's maintenance and inspection programs and safety critical systems, he says. In preparing the company's strategy, he adds, the company looked at integrity programs within and beyond the industry.

‘We learned quite a bit,' says Bocabarteille, who has been with Pride for 19 years and last served as the company's Brazil general manager until 2008. The research pointed to having dedicated resources for maintenance, operations and engineering. ‘The three pillars were common structuring in other industries, and these three working together is the way we wanted to deliver performance excellence.'

The operations team interacts most with the clients and training, and the engineering team monitors transitions and ensures rigs comply with new regulations and requirements. At the same time, Bocabarteille emphasizes, the company aims to stay at the edge of technology.

Condition monitoring programs will help make Pride's asset integrity management strategy a success, Bocabarteille believes. These monitoring programs look at each rig structurally as well as the critical systems.

‘It's a continuous program, where we learn, investigate, train,' he says of Pride's Dynamic Asset Management program. ‘We are shifting from a timebased program into a predictive program, thanks to the monitoring programs.'

The pilot program started last October, but Pride has deployed its program on all of its assets globally.

In West Africa, Bocabarteille notes, the company has deployed vibration analysis to monitor the thruster condition of the Pride Africa and Pride Angola rigs, on contract to Total. ‘We have been able to predict and plan our activity, where we have been able to make some interesting savings, in terms of up time for the rigs, and the safety has been reinforced by the visibility of the condition of our systems,' he says.

The Pride Angola was to see a stoppage slightly over 20 days starting last month for maintenance. Under the previous program, the stoppage could have been almost 50 days. The nearly four-week time savings comes down to approximately $16 million less in immediate shipyard costs and about $15 million of additional dayrate, Bocabarteille says.

Risk factors
Another element of Pride's program is its risk assessment approach. By applying the systematic monitoring systems, Pride is able to better predict its activities, as when it will be necessary to bring a rig out of service for a maintenance program, such as to comply with class requirements.

‘We have better visibility over five years, six years, seven years,' he says, of when repairs and maintenance will be needed. ‘When we predict, when we plan, we will have some benefit on the longer term.'

For example, in Brazil, Pride was using reliability analysis on a rig's critical equipment under a different pilot program that started last year. Based on the results from that analysis, Bocabarteille says, Pride was able to anticipate needed maintenance on the Pride Carlos Walter, and plan a schedule with the client that minimized disruption and coincided with client-requested upgrades.

First, Pride conducted a workscope risk assessment to optimize shipyard tasks as well as a reliability study of critical equipment to optimize the scope of work. Pride then worked with the client to optimize shipyard timing and duration before sending the Pride Carlos Walter in for its shipyard stay, which was completed ahead of schedule and on budget.

In all, he says, the monitoring programs are helping Pride optimize its uptime, he says. As a bonus, the company expects to see some significant savings from the new approach, which Bocabarteille says is helping the company better understand the condition of its equipment.

Pride is using infrared technology to monitor certain electrical components, vibration technology for its main rotating equipment, and expects to take an average of 14,000 oil samples per year from its equipment to understand and predict the life of its equipment.

The new program is ‘proactive and predictive as opposed to reactive, so we need to take advantage of new technologies as they're available,' he says.

As a result of the asset management program, Bocabarteille expects to start seeing better safety performance. The company's cycle uptime and condition of assets are good, he says, and the company is showing signs of improvement. He believes the industry is starting to recognize this, evident in the longevity of the contracts the company is inking.

In the pilot program offshore West Africa, which involves the Pride Africa and the Pride Angola, the company expects to save over 20% in cost and nearly 15% in uptime, he says.

While a rig's maintenance cycle may have been five years between shipyard stops, he says, the company believes it will be able to push that to 71/2 years by using the monitoring program and understanding major equipment failure modes. The rigs can do many maintenance and monitoring activities while operating, he adds, so the rig can have better uptime for the client under the new model.

While operations is such a strong focus in the drilling culture, Bocabarteille says, ‘asset management brings a different perspective'. To make it work, the company has redefined roles and responsibilities. The head count has remained the same, Bocabarteille says, but focus on engineering expertise has been high. ‘We are investing a lot on the engineering side,' he says.

And the investments aren't likely to stop any time soon. Bocabarteille would like to see a remote control center staffed with dedicated expertise to help with diagnostics and troubleshoot potential failures or problems across the world. That, he believes, is still several years away.

‘We want to build a sustainable program here. We need to take time for the organization to accept these changes,' he says. In fact, he says, part of the challenge has been technical, but part has been cultural based on the previous system of continuous operations rather than contract-driven operations. ‘It's a cultural shift that we need to deal with.'

While the company is starting to see benefits from the investment in the program, Bocabarteille expects to see even more from the program over the next few years with the reduction of reactive maintenance cost and increased uptime.

With that, he offers one caveat: ‘Asset management is not the solution and answer to all our challenges on its own. It can only be a success if operations, asset management and engineering work together as a team.' OE



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