Saltiel: Delivering operational excellence is key to Atwood growth

Posted on 13 November 2013

By Joanne Liou, associate editor

Safety and environmental stewardship top Atwood Oceanics’ priorities as the company undergoes rapid growth, Rob Saltiel, president & CEO of Atwood, said at the 2013 IADC Annual General Meeting.

Safety and environmental stewardship top Atwood Oceanics’ priorities as the company undergoes rapid growth, Rob Saltiel, president & CEO of Atwood, said at the 2013 IADC Annual General Meeting.

From 2011 to 2015, Atwood Oceanics will more than double its total fleet, with nine newbuilds joining eight legacy rigs. Its first two ultra-deepwater semisubmersibles – the Atwood Osprey and the Atwood Condor – were delivered in 2011 and 2012 and are operating in Australia and the US Gulf of Mexico, respectively. Three premium jackup deliveries followed, with the units operating in Thailand. “Now we’re in the process of building our first four ultra-deepwater drillships,” Atwood president/CEO Rob Saltiel said. Speaking at the 2013 IADC Annual General Meeting last week in San Antonio, he noted that operational excellence is critical in the midst of such rapid growth “because if we just grow and don’t do that, frankly we haven’t done much.”

To do this, safety and environmental stewardship top Atwood’s priorities. The company recognizes that, without these things, “our clients won’t be satisfied,” Mr Saltiel said. “If there ever becomes a situation where our people are uncomfortable with what they’re hearing from the client, they know that safety and environmental stewardship comes first, and they have an obligation to stop work.”

The company focuses on four “enablers” to ensure safety and reliability amidst rapid growth, beginning with HSE. Corporate HSE composes the company’s systems for process and personal safety, and “the rubber meets the road in the field in making sure there is rigorous implementation of those systems across each of our rigs,” he said. Secondly, the company takes pride in its “one company culture” that allows for a consistent approach to operations and technical support. “We think that gives us a competitive advantage. We don’t have standards around maintenance varying by region or by management group,” Mr Saltiel said.

Further, Atwood has standardized common equipment across its rigs and consolidated its supplier base. “When we’re building our new rigs, whether it’s our drilling packages, BOPs, risers, thrusters or the engines, we standardize as much as we can around a limited number of top-tier suppliers,” he noted. “We can train our people across the common platforms on the rigs and move from an existing rig to a new rig.”

Lastly, Mr Saltiel said, Atwood is growing organically under a strategy of proven rig designs and proven shipyards. “It allows us to keep our culture very pure, and it allows us to make sure that our delivery is flawless and we’re ready to drill once we leave those shipyards.”

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