Performance improvement project helps realise 16% increase in rig’s productive time

Aberdeen-based performance improvement business Exceed has worked closely with the team on a Transocean-owned rig to achieve significant operational benefits.

The continuous improvement project helped play a part in the GSF Explorer’s performance increasing by 16% from a 72% baseline to an average of 82% productive time in the first 12 months and 88% productive time realised during the second half of the wells campaign.

The rig also improved 27 positions in Transocean’s fleet rankings. In terms of savings, the increase was equivalent to 65 additional productive days. The project involved Exceed’s performance improvement coaches working on rotation with rig personnel off Angola.

Several of the Exceed team have worked on projects in various African locations and Egypt, as well as West Africa, is a natural focus area for Exceed due to the high level of deepwater drilling activity.
Exceed director Ian Mills said: “We entered the continuous improvement project with five goals which included deliver a return on investment of 5:1 or greater, embedding sustainable internal capability and improving the rig’s position in the fleet table.

“The step change was realised not by us but by the rig team. We didn’t change technology, introduce new systems or make other capital investments; we simply worked with the most important asset, the rig team. We helped to provide consistency and continuity across the leadership team, introduce a culture of planning and learning, and establish rig best practice through the lessons learned. The rig team embraced the project and took the rig to new performance levels both in planning and execution.”

In 21 months, more than 410 induction sessions as well as over 230 Advanced Planning Meetings and After Action Reviews were held, and with close to 750 lessons learnt, the team achieved a closure rate exceeding 95%.

The Angola project was very much a “rig owned” initiative versus a top-down performance improvement project. It was named NZILA by the rig team – a term taken from an Angolan dialect that translates to “passage to excellence’’.

A NZILA logo incorporating the operator logo, the drillship and the colours of the Angolan flag, was designed especially for the project. It was used on branded T-shirts, newsletters and other printed materials to increase project identity, ownership, and support amongst the offshore team and build project recognition amongst the office-based team.

The Exceed coaches, working on rotation on the rig, also produced short videos capturing key and non-routine drilling activities to help improve communications, health and safety, operational pre-planning and transferring best practice between crews. The capturing of video footage is unique to Exceed’s approach. This type of visual learning not only overcomes language barriers but has been proven to accelerate understanding.

Wullie Strachan, Transocean’s operations manager – performance, for West Africa South, said: “We are pleased with the way the project has developed and spread to the other operations we’d like to see improvements on. This is where we want to be in everything we do. One of our goals was to rise 10 places in the fleet standings: to deliver an upwards movement of 27 places is an outstanding achievement for the rig team.”

Mr Mills added: “Our success lies not in what we do but in what your people continue doing after we’ve gone.

”Most performance improvement companies offer traditional management consulting. Exceed offers an integrated approach with a team whose backgrounds combine traditional consulting with hands-on oil field expertise. As a result, we have developed a unique offering that gives clients the best of both worlds and delivers clear, quantifiable benefits.

“We carried out detailed project planning in advance and had a clearly defined exit strategy, focused on delivering an immediate return on investment and long-term, sustainable improvements.
“At the end of the day, we realise that, like any piece of equipment, our tools are only as good as the people who use them. Without the support and willingness from the rig team, our efforts would have made little difference.

“The teams we work with often already are high-performing teams. Our role is to provide supporting tools and to implement and promote the right behaviours to ensure continued high-performance and, where possible, take the team to the next level.

Ultimately, it is not the rig’s technology or its processes, but its people who deliver best in class performance. We believe that if the rig culture promotes communication, recognition and reward, the rig team will exceed expectations.”

Another project with Talisman in the North Sea recently saw Exceed’s coaches delivering $1.7million in direct savings along with an increase in productive time of 60 rig days – generating multi-million dollar efficiencies.

The 22-month project involved two Exceed coaches working on rotation with the Talisman team on the Ocean Nomad, a semi-submersible drilling rig owned by Diamond Offshore Drilling UK Ltd. The Ocean Nomad was chosen to pilot Exceed’s performance improvement process due to the wide variety of work planned.

That project also was very much a “rig owned” initiative versus a top-down performance improvement project. It was named PLATOON by the rig team – Planning Learning Action Tracking Onboard Ocean Nomad.

Exceed last year launched the industry’s first drilling project management consultancy to specialise solely in deepwater projects. The new division provides a full wells project capability from conceptual design, exploration and evaluation through to full field development.

Exceed’s multi-disciplined deepwater project management team is currently working on the division’s first project for a national oil company and is in advanced talks with a number of other clients for work commencing in 2010.


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