As my year serving as IADC chairman draws to a close, I see an industry that is stronger in many ways than it was 12 months ago.
The rebound in the US Gulf of Mexico is one of the most visible indications of the drilling industry’s resilience. In mid-September, Barclay’s Capital predicted that the deepwater rig count in the Gulf of Mexico should surpass pre-moratorium levels by the end of this year. This region, however, is just one part of a global picture of increasing energy demand coupled with continued new discoveries that augurs well for our industry’s future.
The game-changing shale gas and oil development that started in North America and now is expanding to other continents, the pre-salt oil fields off Brazil and West Africa, new oil and gas developments in Southeast Asia, and deep gas wells in the North Sea – all these opportunities have created strong demand for drilling services onshore and offshore around the world.
Our future depends, however, not just on the opportunities that are open to us but also on our ability to seize those opportunities successfully. I believe we are stronger in this aspect as well.
We have improved safeguards that protect our people and the environment from harm. As the industry has historically done, operators, service providers and regulators came together after a major incident and stepped up to a new level of performance. We have been able to meet even more stringent requirements and further elevate safety. Offshore, these efforts have created additional protections such as a subsea containment solution and improved safety barriers in existing systems and processes. On land, we continue to improve technology around hydraulic fracturing to reduce water use and protect surrounding air and water resources.
IADC has played a major role in the standards-setting process and is itself moving toward a new level of performance as an organization. Listening to members, we have recognized and are responding to the call for greater focus on the critical issues our members face around the need for more people and increased competencies; advancing technical processes; equipment reliability; a larger voice in shaping effective regulation; and a healthy dynamic between operators and contractors. We are also increasing the global reach of the organization to better serve our global industry.
This marks a new direction for IADC – one that we believe will make both the organization and its members even more effective in moving our industry forward. We’ve made notable progress in 2012. Earlier this year we launched our new KSA (Knowledge, Skills and Abilities) project to create a consistent industrywide set of competency benchmarks, and in September we opened our new Crown Center for Excellence at IADC’s Houston headquarters. The center is designed to accommodate IADC committees and workgroups and become a home for increased training courses and seminars. We have also contributed our voice this year to regulatory processes on onshore and offshore issues.
It has been rewarding during my term as IADC chairman to see how our industry has moved forward both in opportunities and performance and to be a part of shaping the direction of the organization to grow even further. There is much more to be done to ensure that we continue to reach new levels of performance – both as an industry and as an organization, and I intend to maintain an active role as past chairman in supporting the initiatives that have been laid out this year.
I welcome David W. Williams, chairman, president and CEO of Noble Corp, as he steps into the role of IADC chairman in 2013, and I wish for him as memorable a tenure as mine has been.