Featured Image

Ready to turn on the lights?


The last time reactivations happened at any scale was 2004-2007. After that, drilling contractors focused on operations, ordering new rigs as needed until the 2014 crash led to another round of stacking.

Few companies, or even roving individuals, have any recent experience.  Most drilling contractors who took on one of these just got on with it themselves. This DIY approach to managing multiple suppliers meant the bulk of reactivations overran on both cost and time.

Since the last wave of reactivations, newer generation rigs have grown, in size and sophistication. Older rigs are still around but unpredictable. Remember taking the Christmas tree down from the attic each year and crossing your fingers when you turn on the lights? Like that, but with your job at stake.

“The bulk of reactivations overran on both cost and time”

Both old and new rigs present challenges. Drilling contractors can still draw on technical industry knowledge but lack the project knowledge of how it all comes together.

While the method of commissioning new builds has some similarities, drilling contractors sacrificed knowledge of this process when owners embraced the turnkey model for ordering new rigs. The best a drilling contractor can say is that it was ‘consulted’. Most were only ‘involved’ prior to taking delivery of their new rigs—the very ones they’re now looking to reactivate.

Those drilling contractors who ran the few recent reactivations are the only custodians of up-to-date experience. But they must still adapt their hard-won lessons to a specific new context in a tightening drilling rig market. Others have had no chance to capture lessons and integrate them into their project management systems and approaches. Project leaders lack past data to help spot risks early, as they might for standard SPS projects.

As the market compels drilling contractors to act, many will be preparing to fight the reactivation battle they just fought rather than the one they are about to fight.


Dealing with uncertainty

Restarts are inherently uncertain. Overall vessel integrity, the state of the plant and equipment, competence within the supply chain, and the availability of capable personnel to manage the project and crew the rig are all compounded by tight time constraints to get rigs online when promised. Reactivation projects therefore require quick planning, inviting the risk of budget blowouts and delays, unless luck is with you.

Fortunately, one of our core offerings has always been rig restarts, tested globally. Like everyone else, we’ll need to learn new lessons. But we have the foundations, and the people, to bring clarity and rigour to the process. If you want to feel more certain, give us a call.