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Targeting failure: Shell team gets to root causes to reduce NPT

Posted on 03 February 2010

Shell has been able to reduce its total drilling time by 50% and its nonproductive cost by 66% since establishing a dedicated team to investigate drilling tool failures in 2006, reported James Griffith of Shell Upstream Americas in a presentation at the 2010 IADC/SPE Drilling Conference on 2 February in New Orleans.

The above graph shows the frequency of total failures in GOM drilling operations.

The above graph shows the frequency of tool failures in GOM drilling operations.

Although operators traditionally rely on the well delivery team to work with vendors to investigate drilling tool failures, Shell decided in 2006 that there would be benefits in forming a dedicated team. This group would be trained in root cause failure analysis (RCFA) and would have the time and resources to get to the details of any failure incident, Mr Griffith said.

Drilling engineers and superintendents don’t always have the time to sit down with vendors and get to the bottom of a failure incident. By having a dedicated team, that “relieves that responsibility off of the operations team so that they can go ahead and do the drilling of the well and the completing of the well,” he said. “And the focus team is allowed to really get into the details and work with vendors to find the root cause and eliminate that root cause.”

The team kicked off in September 2006, initially focusing only on MWD and rotary steerable tool failures in the Gulf of Mexico. Their success led to an expansion of the team in January 2008 to include land drilling/completion operations and in April 2009 to add GOM completions to its scope.

Besides shifting the investigation role away from busy drilling engineers, having a special RCFA team also ensures that incidents are always consistently investigated and documented. That allows for indexing of failures reports and easy searching in the future, Mr Griffith said.

He laid out the features that are necessary to the success of the RCFA process as:

• A manageable and focused work scope. This means that the highest impact events get the most attention.

• Dedicated personnel/team with clear roles and responsibilities to conduct failure investigations.

• Clearly defined vendor responsibilities and accountabilities during failure investigation and while implementing corrective actions.

• Clear and timely communication with the interested parties (drilling teams, vendors, contracting and procurement and quality services).

The team also compiles corrective actions and recommendations related to NPT events into risk mitigation reports and releases awareness bulletins to highlight newly initiated and completed investigations.

“The objective of the team overall is not to have a repeat failure,” Mr Griffith said. “So if they do have a repeat failure, then they’re not doing their job.”

Mr Griffith’s co-authors on IADC/SPE 128425, “Nonproductive Time (NPT) Reduction Delivered Through Effective Failure Investigations,” are Brad Hubbard and Shabib Kadri, TH Hill Associates; Michael Crotinger, consultant; and Eric van Oort, Shell Upstream Americas.

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