Drilling on Draugen – a completely new concept

person Finn Harald Sandberg, Norwegian Petroleum Museum
Great emphasis was placed by Norske Shell on safety and the working environment when the drilling module for the Draugen platform came to be developed.
— Boretårnet til Draugen plassert på Forus. Foto: Ukjent/NOV
© Norsk Oljemuseum

The operator decided to drop the detailed design requirements which had been usual since the early 1980s, and opted instead for the recommendations made by Norway’s Norsok project.

Intended to enhance the competitiveness of the Norwegian continental shelf, the latter had come out in favour of performance-based specifications for offshore facilities.

Setting clear demands for user functionality, safety and the working environment, without going into details, would offer cheaper, more efficient and safer solutions.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Nytt fra A/S Norske Shell, summer 1992, “Nytt borekonsept for internasjonalt marked”.

Norske Shell required that analyses were conducted with the work operations and crew most vulnerable to accidents, and how such incidents could be avoided.[REMOVE]Fotnote: Nytt fra A/S Norske Shell, summer 1992, “Sikkerhet og arbeidsmiljø i sentrum”.

The attention devoted to safety and performance-based requirements gave the newly formed Hitec-Dreco joint venture the opportunity to turn its innovative ideas into reality.

These in turn would create a new generation of drilling rigs for fixed offshore installations worldwide.

One member of this partnership, established in 1989, was Hitec, a Stavanger-based specialist in instrumentation, electrical engineering and computer systems.

The other was Canada’s Dreco, which delivered all types of drilling equipment to the global market. This company also had experience of tough climatic conditions from delivering modularised rigs for Arctic exploration.

John McGill was in many respects the pivotal figure in this new constellation, and served as Hitec-Dreco’s chief executive during the first few years.

After leaving a Norwegian drilling company in 1987, he had many ideas about how equipment could be improved in terms of safety and the working environment. And these proposals would not least involve big reductions in both weight and price.

A plethora of new ideas was put forward when the joint venture got started. Not all of these were equally good – most were actually rejected.

But a good climate of cooperation between the two teams yielded very interesting concepts. When the invitation to tender for Draugen arrived, a creative forum could come up with viable options.

The drilling module was not to have a long life on the platform. It was removed in 1997 and subsequently had an interesting career. Read more about where the rig ended up.

Published October 19, 2018   •   Updated October 19, 2018
© Norsk Oljemuseum
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