The KG1 Does It...Again

To set a water-depth drilling world record in almost two miles of water once is a commendable achievement in itself… but to do it twice… in approximately six months is an accomplishment no other rig in the industry has reached, other than Transocean’s Dhirubhai Deepwater Krishna Godavari 1 KG1 (KG1).

There is no single key ingredient to such an achievement; but it takes the right mix of people, equipment, and time. For the KG1, all factors worked together; the right people created the right plan for the ultra-deepwater drillship to drill in water depths as never before.  The strategic planning was supported by a strong partnership, technical leadership, and crew full of pride and ownership in the KG1.

But that’s not to say the team didn’t face challenges; there were plenty, but the team was proactive in their planning, actions and execution.  Challenge number one: how could a rig equipped to drill up to 10,000 feet of water surpass the then-world record of 10,194 feet set by its sister rig, the Dhirubhai Deepwater KG2.

The KG1 team didn’t see these limitations as a dead end, but rather hurdles to overcome. With a relentless “go get ‘em” attitude, the KG1 team embarked on a world record-setting 18-month, 22-well journey.

From Concept to Reality - Behind the Scenes

In February 2012, the initial discussion began on the feasibility of a Transocean rig taking on a five-well drilling campaign off the East Coast of India. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd. (ONGC), an Indian national oil company, wanted the KG1 to perform the work and brought in support from Reliance, a younger oil company, who leased the risers from KG2, also operating offshore India.

Reliance played a large role in making the world-records a reality, as they agreed to share equipment from the KG2, which is capable of drilling in water depths to 12,000 feet.

“As soon as Reliance agreed, we went through very detailed discussions on operations, commercial aspects, and technical evaluations to fully understand what was required by each party to get the drilling campaign started,” said Krishna Singhania (KK) , General Manager, Asia Pacific Australasia (APA)- West.

The first step in the process was to get the agreement in writing, which took about eight to nine months. During this time, the three key players, Transocean, ONGC and Reliance, worked together on an amendment to accommodate the drilling capability change and engineering studies to figure out how to successfully operate to 12,000 feet of water. Once the amendment was agreed upon by all parties, the KG1 team used the next three to four months to get logistics, training and equipment ready to go. During this time period, the risers on the KG2 were the essential pieces of equipment needed to be transferred to the KG1.

“We had to demobilize equipment from the KG2 working in a remote area in Asia and get that equipment shipped to India for inspection and recertification, then we could mobilize the same to KG1,” said Rune Kval, Operations Manager, APA. “That process alone took three months and was one of our greatest logistical challenges.”

A year later in February 2013, the KG1 crew found itself successfully drilling a new world-record for water depth drilling at 10,385 feet of water. “The morale aboard the KG1 in February when we set the new record was full of excitement and surprisingly calm, as if the crew wasn’t surprised at just ‘doing their job’,” said Danny Rotella, OIM, KG1. “Each crew member already has a sense of pride in our rig performance and to be recognized nationally for this achievement was humbling and gave us the encouragement to work harder together to achieve the next one.”

The five-well campaign initiated by ONGC had commenced, successfully, and by the next day the team was working towards the next one. “We were drilling a very deepwater well and hoping to find something on this well,” said Ranajit Chakraverti, Key Account Director, APA West. “For our customer, their main focus is discovery. The world record is a technological achievement but in terms of exploration, a greater achievement is when you assist your customer to make a hydrocarbon discovery. That’s the top focus of our teams and is our motivation as we move from well to well.”

The same resources, planning and leadership continued into the summer months when the KG1 began drilling the 1-D1 well on the East Coast of India, not far from the previous well. On the eve of June 27, Danny had the pleasure of sharing more exciting news to Transocean leadership, “This is to inform you the KG1 has successfully landed out its BOP at 19:30 this evening on a well head at 3,174 meters. This is a new world record! Another outstanding achievement by all the crews of the KG1,” Danny wrote.

While the KG1 team was receiving more positive press for another record, Transocean’s operations in India as a whole were also receiving national recognition – reaffirming our technical leadership and achievements in India. Days after the second well announcement, the prestigious Petroleum Federation of India (PetroFed) recognized Transocean as the “Best Drilling Services Company in India” for significant contributions to E&P activities in India during the nation’s fiscal year 2011-2012.

“This was the first time Transocean India has received this award for our performance,” said Ranajit. “This honor is especially meaningful as it recognizes the range and extent of our activities, including our diversity, scope, technical innovation and environmental concern. It also takes into account our social responsibility, health, safety and efficiency.”

The KG1 finished its last well with ONGC in September and has now gone back to operations with Reliance to finish its remainder of the term out of five-year contract.

Trusted Partnership

While logistics and resources played a large role in the KG1 team performance and Transocean’s overall operations in India, there is another variable imperative to success: the customer relationship. ONGC, a national oil company, is also considered a flagship energy company for India, as they have a more focused approach towards achieving the hydrocarbon security for the nation as a whole. Our partnership with ONGC dates back to the major discovery of the Mumbai High field in 1974 and has grown stronger ever since.

The deepwater business began in India when Transocean, ONGC and Schlumberger partnered together in 2002 for a project called, “Sagar Samridhi,” which means “built from the ocean.”  Reliance, a diverse younger company, has been in the hydrocarbon business around 12 years, starting with an unprecedented string of natural gas discoveries off the East Coast of India using the Discoverer 534 drillship.

Transocean is a well-respected company in India and the partnership we share with our customers allows them to better achieve their goals of finding oil and natural gas, which is essential to reducing costly imported hydrocarbons.

The fact that the last three world water depth drilling records set by Transocean rigs have occurred while working with Reliance and ONGC offshore India is a testament to the trusted partnership we share with both customers. “From the top management at Transocean to the top management of ONGC and Reliance, and all the levels in between, I think our relationships are exemplary and make our performance stand out in the industry,” said KK.

Meanwhile, onshore support and leadership also engages in team building, as you can read on page 11 as Jimmie Bullock, Rig Manager, KG1, organized a cricket match between the two companies, promoting morale and a stronger bond between Transocean and its customer.

“Since the KG1 is completing the contract, we have to thank ONGC for choosing to use the KG1 for the last four years,” said Nitin D’Mello, Operations Manager, Performance, APA.  “They’ve been a great customer to work for and with, and the KG1 wouldn’t be the rig it is today if it wasn’t for all of the support from ONGC.”

The Resilience of the KG1

Setting a world record is an exciting achievement for any team, but being able to maintain focus and top safety performance is a reflection on the crew’s commitment to their work – and that is exactly what the KG1 crew did  on both world records.  “We constantly promote ways to avoid complacency to foster our safe, highly competent work performed onboard the KG1,” said Wilson D’souza, RSTC, KG1.

While working on the record-drilling well campaign, the KG1 crew reached one year with a zero total recordable incident rate on July 20 and after more than 1.9 million man hours achieved 1,000 consecutive days without a lost time incident (LTI)  June 5. “We ignored the hype during all the milestones and records,” said Christopher Barry, Chief ET.  “Internally we were all proud and excited, but we didn’t want that to affect our output, so we kept doing our job like we did the day before.”

The crew’s spirit isn’t something you have to be a part of daily to understand. It’s easily noticed, appreciated and adds to the overall team performance.  “I’m very proud to work with such a committed, passionate, capable crew,” said Jimmie Bullock, Rig Manager. “Every time I visit the rig, they continue to impress me from our START conversations, immaculate maintenance of the rig, the crew’s competency and compliance; and it is all confirmed by customer and service party recognition.”

There are aspects about the personnel that while it makes the crew unique, also work to their advantage, creating a stronger bond. “At one time we had more than 21 nationalities working on this rig, currently there are about 18,” said Danny, OIM. “What could be seen as a challenge to teamwork and blending of cultures, our crew sees as an opportunity to learn about each other and use to build off of each other’s strengths.”

“We don’t view ourselves as separate departments on the KG1, there is no, ‘Oh that’s my job.’ We view everything as “our job,” we want to help out, and if we are unsure, we want to learn,” explained Sorin Dumitriu, Chief Engineer, KG1. The camaraderie Sorin alluded to, cultivates the constant mentoring and knowledge-sharing within the crew, which goes beyond just Transocean employees.

“We never say ‘third parties’ on the rig, we have service providers,” said Chris. “Sometimes it’s a challenge to bring equipment up to our standards, but we are one team on this rig and we overcome challenges and learn together.”

In addition to strong team morale, record setting and top safety performance, the KG1 crew is also ahead in operational performance. On the Transocean rig global scorecard, which scores and rates the entire fleet based on execution, safety, people, and customer criteria, the KG1 has been ranked among the top-two performers so far for 2013 and is ranked number one on the fleet-wide subsea scorecard. And as of this past July, the KG1 has had zero unplanned BOP pulls in the last 24 months and 13 successful deployments.

Tony Gonsalves, Deckpusher, explained what he believes motivates the KG1 crew’s stand-out performance. “When we approach the same job, we approach it like it is our first time; we make sure we don’t make the same mistake twice and we look for ways to improve along the way. We are honest with each other and we show respect. Our teamwork supported by our due diligence to execute tasks efficiently the first time allows us to perform at the caliber we do today.”

Like any rig, the KG1 is sure to celebrate local holidays. The Sodexo catering crew accommodates the day’s food, desserts and galley decorations to fit the celebration. Recently, they celebrated Indian Independence Day and Eid al-Fitr.  “We respect and celebrate all cultures on the KG1, it helps build our team morale and is a nice break from work while we are away from home four weeks at a time,” said Wilson.

The accommodations on the rig are so well-kept, even the ONGC rig manager expressed his appreciation through a letter sent on his behalf to the Sodexo part of the KG1 team, after he spent a couple of nights out on the rig.

“I would like to take the opportunity to thank Abhiskek Gaonkar (Campboss), Arvind Kumar Bhati (Supervisor) and all Sodexo team members of the DDKG1 on organizing ONGC Rig Manager Mr. Anoop Hansda’s visit to the rig successfully. I congratulate the efforts taken to provide outstanding services and delicious food, which made his stay memorable.

Sodexo has been rendering their outstanding services very efficiently with keeping the quality high. Being on the offshore installation they have been providing all that comfort we need to be away from home. On behalf of ONGC team, I wish them very best for the future.”

– A Venkataramana,
Chief Engineer, ONGC.

APA’s Hidden Gem - Kakinada Riser Yard

Transocean has come a long way over the last decade in India. Ten years ago, we were operating just one jackup there (Trident II). Today, we are operating three jackups, three semisubmersibles and three ultra-deepwater drillships.

The local supply chain and logistical support in India has grown with Transocean’s presence has over the past decade. However until five years ago, the closest yard for offshore India rigs was in Singapore. Shipping one-way alone took about a month, then factor in the 10-12 months to turn around a riser joint, and you are looking at a time span of over a year, at about USD $200,000 per riser. Especially with ultra-deewpater drilling, about 120 joints of riser are needed for the 12,000-feet capabilities.

Management saw the amount of time and money being poured into the Singapore riser every year and came up with the plan to build a yard in India. In 2009, local Transocean management went through consultations, joint partnerships with manufacturers and opened up the Transocean riser yard in Kakinada, Andhra Pradesh, India, which is on the East Coast.  Now it is one of the biggest cost-saving projects in the APA. Riser joints are coming into the yard, being serviced, then returning to the rigs in about three to four months a joint costing approximately USD$90,000 – which is one-third of the cost and one-third of the time per riser compared to the Singapore yard.

“We are very proud of the quality of work at our Kakinada riser yard and even our customers recognize it,” said KK. “I’ve been in meetings where directors of ONGC express their interest in repairing and inspecting their risers at our yard. Our relationship with them keeps building in the right direction, and it’s all due to our world-class rig crews, quality performance and technical leadership in the industry.”


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