How Parker Drilling is making its mark in Atlantic Canada
When Parker Drilling was awarded the Drilling Operations and Maintenance (O&M) contract for the Hibernia platform in June 2016, Parker was an “unknown” in Atlantic Canada. There was some question locally about Parker’s ability to operate successfully offshore Newfoundland. Now, nearly two years later, Parker has proven that it is up to the challenge.
Since taking over O&M responsibilities for the Hibernia Drilling Modules, Parker Drilling quickly established itself as a company to watch. In the first year of operations, the team hit all targets in the Hibernia drilling plan—safely and ahead of schedule—collaboratively working with HMDC to establish standards for drilling reliability and efficiency.
Parker Drilling’s successes in the Hibernia drilling program result from a clear and coordinated strategy achieved by a workforce that is almost 100 percent local.
“It’s understandable that a community would be sceptical of an outside company coming to town,” said Jennifer Simons, who relocated to St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador when she became the General Manager for Parker Drilling. “But we knew we would succeed. We focus on building our operation locally. We learn what matters to the local community and the local industry and we take advantage of Parker’s global experience through our culture of Operational Discipline—the commitment by every team member to carry out each task, the right way, each and every time.”
Simons explained how they develop a disciplined culture with newly hired local workforces. “We execute a rigorous recruitment strategy, we provide the new team with necessary tools and training, and we free them to take total ownership of delivering results. It’s not a matter of being perfect; it’s a matter of systematically being better today than we were yesterday.”
WHO IS PARKER DRILLING?
Parker Drilling provides drilling services and rental tools to the energy industry. The Company’s Drilling Services business serves operators in the inland waters of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, utilizing Parker Drilling’s barge rig fleet, and in select U.S. and international markets and harsh-environment regions utilizing Parker-owned and customer-owned equipment. The Company’s Rental Tools Services business (through subsidiaries Quail Tools and iTS) supplies premium equipment and well services to operators on land and offshore in the U.S. and international markets.
Parker Drilling also provides O&M services to offshore platforms.
Simons explained why the O&M model makes sense for operators. “In the case of offshore platforms like Hibernia, the operator owns the asset. We provide competent people and procedures to safely and efficiently operate and maintain the drilling equipment, closely aligned to our customer’s goals and objectives. Through a customized O&M model, we offer our global experience to be extremely cost effective for our customers.”
While Parker Drilling is new to this region, it has been in business since 1934 and has served as a global O&M contractor since 1972. “For decades, we have worked in harsh, remote, often arctic environments, so our safety cultures, values, and Integrated Management System are well-suited for working in the Grand Banks,” Simons said. “That was an advantage for the Hibernia opportunity. Of course, we had to be as cost efficient as possible. We are good at that, too.”
Competent, local teams
Parker Drilling achieved cost effectiveness in part by hiring local. “When we hire local, we avoid costs and time we would spend bringing personnel in from around the globe,” Simons explained. “In addition to lower costs, there are other real advantages to focusing on local. Customers, governments, and communities where we work prefer that we hire local. Perhaps most importantly, a local workforce is more familiar with the regulatory regime, the local environment, and the social culture—and it’s a matter of pride to work safely and efficiently alongside family and friends.”
It was a mammoth task, but Parker Drilling successfully executed its recruitment strategy.
“We received more than 10,000 applications for just over 100 positions,” Simons recalled. “Parker operations personnel from other geographical areas flew in to evaluate applicants based upon relevant skills, experience and willingness to commit to Operational Discipline.”
Parker Drilling also sought to extend at least 25 percent of interviews to qualified female applicants. However, finding those qualified women required extra effort.
“Women generally don’t have a legacy in drilling operations, and that presents a challenge for recruiting and interviewing women for senior offshore positions,” Simons said, adding that roustabout is an entry-level position. When no women applied, Parker Drilling collaborated with Women in Resource Development Corporation (WRDC) to conduct job fairs. “We didn’t sugar-coat. We explained the challenges of working offshore but also highlighted benefits like the generous starting salary, the supportive Parker Drilling culture, and an opportunity to chart a new career path. Applications from women started rolling in for roustabout, safety, and maintenance roles, and we have been proud to interview and hire qualified and hard-working women who are now building that offshore legacy.”
Simons was pleased with the recruiting outcomes. “We absolutely built a highly competent, committed, and confident team. At this point, we employ only two non-Canadians. Virtually all the rest of the team are from here in the province.”
Operational discipline provides tools for local team to shine
Once the local team was in place with all required regulatory, customer, and Parker Drilling training, focus shifted to “Parkerizing” the team. The first crew of team members arrived on the platform in July 2016, with a second wave starting in November. The company wasted no time focusing on two main components of Operational Discipline: Competency and Procedural Discipline. An important element of the competency component is the Authorization to Operate and Approved Competent Operator (ATO/ACO) program, which the company introduced early in the start-up process.
According to operations manager Jeff Weitzel, ATO/ACO is a comprehensive program designed to ensure workers are competent to operate equipment safely and effectively.
“Individuals are trained against a detailed checklist for each piece of equipment before being given Authorization to Operate the equipment with supervision,” Weitzel said. “Once the individual can demonstrate the entire checklist independently, he or she becomes an Approved Competent Operator and can operate the equipment without supervision. We now have over 1,100 ATO/ACO certifications completed on Hibernia.” He continued to describe other competency initiatives. “Our Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) set out key competencies for every position. Each worker owns his or her KSAs and takes initiative to have them witnessed and signed off by a supervisor as they develop in a role. Even the rig superintendents have their KSAs signed off by me.”
The company also took other measures to enhance safety and performance, including the popular Opportunity for Improvement (OFI) program, which invites suggestions on how to improve safety or efficiency.
“Hundreds of OFI cards have been submitted to date,” Weitzel added. “Every suggestion gets reviewed, and many are implemented. We always circle back to the submitter to explain our decision. We make a sincere effort to demonstrate the value of input from our people.”
Weitzel said he is proud of the crews for immediately embracing the central element of Procedural Discipline, the Work Safe Procedure (WSP). “WSPs—developed by the crew for the crew—ensure consistent performance and provide a user-friendly tool for continuous improvement. After-action reviews (AARs), conducted upon completion of the task, capture what went right and wrong. The AAR goes through a quick approval process so improvements are included in the WSP next time. We get a little bit better every time.”
Local team delivers impressive results
With Operational Discipline taking hold among the local team, Hibernia drilling operations commenced in January 2017. Since then, Parker Drilling has never looked back. Drilling of the first well was completed safely and ahead of schedule. The crews worked safely with no labour or regulatory issues and very little turnover. That level of performance continued.
On top of that, the company raised the bar by setting several new drilling records for Hibernia.
“We have broken 10 records for highest rate of penetration (ROP) in the Hibernia reservoir,” Weitzel said. “We achieved four records for longest bit runs in the Ben Nevis-Avalon and Hibernia reservoirs, and improved casing running speeds by 30 percent. The first three wells were delivered one month ahead of schedule, and we continued to deliver more wells than had been planned for 2017. When you look at our casing running rate, we have safely increased it by 40 metres per hour compared to prior running rates on Hibernia; that’s with just small adjustments in execution.”
“When I say ‘we,’ I mean the entire Hibernia team,” Weitzel continued. “These achievements are our customer’s achievements. We don’t claim sole responsibility, but we are proud to have played a crucial role in supporting our customer’s successes on these wells and we are looking to be better tomorrow and the day after that.”
David Haeberle, HMDC drilling and subsurface manager, said Parker Drilling continued to deliver throughout 2017. “Driving procedural discipline has been key to delivering wells safely and ahead of schedule. Parker continues to identify opportunities to improve efficiency and reliability, allowing us to invest more into Hibernia’s future.”
Regarding Parker Drilling’s first year on Hibernia, HMDC drilling operations superintendent Chad Jarvis said, “The entire Hibernia team has thrived with Parker Drilling on the platform, as they believe in a one team, one vision approach. The Parker team is very aligned with our core values focused on safety, integrity, managing risk and delivering on our commitments.”
The future for Parker Drilling
The scepticism that greeted Parker Drilling’s arrival on the east coast has been replaced with respect. In a matter of months, Parker Drilling proved itself as a high-performing team in Atlantic Canada. What’s next for the company?
“We intend to remain in Newfoundland and Labrador and continue to grow as part of this community,” Simons said. “We will work hard to remain part of Hibernia. We hope to offer Parker Drilling’s Operational Discipline to other customers here in the province and we know we can apply these principles to help customers in other unique global locations.”
PARKER DRILLING CANADA COMPANY
215 Water Street, St. John’s, NL A1C 6C9