Sidebar 1: Drilling a team sport, says Fritz Gunkel
Nabors Alaska Drilling is drilling the Northstar wells for BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc., and Fritz Gunkel, BP’s Northstar delivery manager, told PNA “a drilling operation is just like a baseball team.
“I mean let’s put BP as the pitcher: if you don’t have a catcher, first base, second base, third base and the outfield - you don’t have a baseball team,” he said.
“And the baseball team out at Northstar is playing world-class baseball.”
The team concept at Northstar capitalizes on a quality program called technical limits, he said, a program that’s being used pretty broadly across the North Slope.
The focus is on “improving the operation to make it safer, more efficient - without anybody doing anything faster.”
Throwing a ball faster doesn’t necessarily get you anywhere, Gunkel said: “but if you throw it in the right place, you get a double play.
“And so what happens is the floor hands and the derrick men and the drillers and the mud men and the directional drillers look at our wells section by section and look at how they’re going to do them and then how they improve them.”
The process is a collaboration, he said, and there are more meetings than there used to be.
Technical limit coaches “on the rig that actually coordinate all these ideas, pour them together, make sure they get applied to the next well. All that goes back into well design.”
The casing design is important to Northstar’s improved drilling.
“But if you had to put your finger on one other thing, besides the casing design, I would say it’s the quality of how that team is working together out there,” Gunkel said.
Although BP brought technical limits to the slope, “our contractors really jumped on it and made it better than we ever thought it would be - or at least as good as we hoped it would be.”
BP has the program going around the world.
And, Gunkel said, “BP rated Northstar as the best running team - and that includes engineering and implementation - of any team in North America and one of the two or three best in the world.”