This paper reviews an operator's deepwater drilling campaign in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea and the principles that were established to ensure success through optimized performance.

Due to the economics involved in deepwater drilling notably the availability of suitable high specification drilling units, (and the corresponding high operating costs and mobilization times) operators with short exploration campaigns are responsive to considering the use of lesser specification vessels with a different well construction philosophy as a means of both optimizing performance and safely undertaking a project.

For this particular case study, the operator implemented current proven technologies in new ways to extend the previously regarded equipment limitations of a vessel thus providing a fit for purpose and safe solution to the financial and operational roadblocks which could have hampered the project. Specifically the implementation of surface BOP's on a dynamically positioned drillship along with riserless drilling and evaluation of a shallow gas reservoir well.

The key principles employed that ensured a successful campaign were;

  • Trust in the teams ability to do their job

  • Thorough well planning and risk assessment processes

  • Establishing a high objective. i.e. "technical limit"

  • Adapting and innovating to a given situation

  • Logistical planning

  • Emphasis on accurate cost tracking

  • Establishing strong vendor relationships.

The principles employed in this particular success case can be implemented for any project or task in a variety of industries or applications. Ultimately success was attained through thorough planning and subsequently successful execution of the plan.

The result was that this operator was able to drill 5 wells in the same amount of time as other operators had taken to drill only one well. This paper will detail how world record breaking performance in a deepwater environment was achieved.

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