Offshore Plug and Abandonment - Part 2

In part one of this blog post, we discussed how to execute a P&A operation while staying on budget and potentially increasing cash flow, as well as some of the challenges that arise in trying to get there.  Now, let’s explore how to implement a solution that tackles those challenges head on.

Implementing the Solution

The first action to take is to install a comprehensive planning process.  The output of this process should be a detailed execution plan for each step of the Prog (Critical Path Activities), including:

  1. the vendor responsible for doing the work

  2. the actual work to be done,

  3. the tools and materials required,

  4. the barrier free time that it should take to complete the task.

It is important that in this last step that the time associated with the work is not expressed as neither a “sandbagged” estimate or a function of a budget (this is not an expectation, but a pure measure of the safest, most productive and efficient way of executing the work). The tool used to capture this plan should also have the capability of retaining notes and learnings from the execution.  Additionally, the plan for the next well should be updated and modified based on the data collected in real time with the work execution.  It is extremely important that future plans get documented as soon as possible, and not wait for a review after the well is completely abandoned.  Also, if there are other teams performing similar work, be sure to share learnings across the assets’ engineering and rig teams. Since even the best plans have “unknowns” that emerge, it is important that the plans incorporate contingencies for “known unknowns” as well.  Challenge third party experts to plan jobs in a manner that shows they’ve taken “what might happen” into consideration.

One of the biggest barriers to any offshore (or even on-shore) operation is logistics.  Acquiring and storing equipment, tools, and materials are always a challenge.  Once again, planning is the key.  Knowing what equipment, tools, and materials are required should allow you the ability to plan the deck space required (visual shop and 5S are good tools for organizing your deck requirements).  Again it is important to challenge your third party contractors to inspect their tools in the yard for reliability, and to ensure that everything they need to do their job is ready for shipping.  After all, part of optimizing your deck space requires that not every tool and basket be duplicated, but that your vendors are held accountable for the reliable function of their tools and equipment.   Another part of abandonment planning should be repurposing equipment and vessels. If you can avoid bringing out that mud pit, pump, or gas buster, you will be able to realize the residual in space as well as rental and logistics costs.  Once you know your minimum deck requirements (blue sky) you can then determine your boat requirements.  The objective is Just in Time (JIT) delivery of everything required, including contingencies.  An especially good rule of thumb for P&A is that each boat should leave at least as loaded as it arrived. 

With a solid detailed plan in place, it is now important to share that plan with everybody who is involved.  Ideally if a plan is constructed properly, the people who are designing and executing the work have already weighed in on how the work will be done.  However, a plan for the tour is psychologically different from the “blue sky” plan that was originally conceived.  This is not to say that these two plans should not align, but if there are differences between the plans that were originally drawn up and what the crew thinks needs to be done pre-tour, these variances should be explored to determine the safest way to perform the work.  Think of this in terms of not using a generic JSA for identifying specific hazards on “this job”.  Also, being able to visually represent a tour plan is critical.  Collectively a team will better be able to identify barriers and improvements if the plan is represented in a visual format on the deck where the work is being done.  The visual becomes the “watering hole” for conversations around improvement, reinforcing the cultural and routine establishment. 

So, a detailed plan has been established with timings of nearly flawless execution, and it has been communicated as well as visually represented to the team.  Is this a recipe for disaster?  After all, the team is made up of highly competitive individuals who will probably start to cut corners in the event that they start getting off plan, right? Wrong! Because a behavioral approach has also been installed where foremen, Toolpushers, and Supervisors are all engaged regularly with their people.  Pre-job stand-downs are being held before each critical activity.  The team knows that it is unacceptable to deviate from plan and everyone on the team has the authority to a call time out if they recognize a deviation from plan.  Further, the team knows that a plan deviation represents a potential hazard in and of itself. 

So how did this team come to recognize these things? Because of the engaged coaching that it is receiving.  The system being implemented must contain a Short Interval Control (SIC) that triggers a Foreman/Supervisor to engage his/her people. This SIC usually takes the form of a set of rules and/or a document that causes the foreman to check up on the progress of work at designated periods of the day.  The methods that the Foreman uses when conducting these SICs will determine the culture that is established. But I must stop and give warning: I have seen similar systems installed and mandates given for this type of engagement that have ended tragically.  Leadership must be dedicated to supporting this type of effort with coaching support for their foremen, otherwise the foremen will take on the interpretation of the crews and attempt to hit the plans at all costs.  An engaged foreman helps his team understand where the plan was flawed and where the execution broke down.  An engaged Foreman facilitates learning about what opportunities exist in executing work.  An engaged Foreman does not rely on their own expertise to provide answers for their people, but creates an atmosphere where their people are coming forth with solutions to problems and actively seeking opportunities for improved performance. 

The next piece of the system that needs to be implemented is a follow-up mechanism that allows senior leadership to support both the drive to improvement, but also supports the integrity of the system itself.  Along with the KPIs that have been tracked, a new set of measures needs to be established that allows visibility to critical system elements.  I am not advocating that deep-dive reports with hundreds of metrics be the standard, in fact, quite the opposite.  One of the best ways that I have found to drive these initiatives is through conversations in meetings.  Sure you might have a metric that measures adherence to plan, but hitting the metric is not the important information.  Leaders need to be cognizant of why the plan was or was not achieved. Did the intervention of the Foreman align with the vision of the campaign? Were new solutions explored? Were corners cut? How is the use of the system best supported?  Are learnings being incorporated in the new progs or well plans? What is my required intervention? 

So with this system you have the basic mechanism in place for conducting a P&A campaign that allows better planning, a way of measuring execution to plan reliably, and has a behavioral component that will allow a team to solve problems. Now it’s time to put this all into action.  This system has many moving parts, and most members of a team will try to comply, but how they are led and supported will be critical to the long-term success. The real success to this type of behavioral based CI program builds a team’s capacity to solve problems, sustain a learning environment, and feel intrinsically connected to people.  Senior leadership must coach their rig leadership in the same way as described for Foremen.  Whether it be over the phone or in person on the rig, leaders must own the system and allow the people doing the work to own their process.

If this type of implementation is being considered, it must be wholly supported by the senior levels of an organization. Be prepared to support this effort with coaching, to realize the results of the culture change; near compliance to a new set of tools and methods will not be sustainable. I recently coached such a program in the past year that is paying huge dividends for my client and turned a one-off required abandonment into a business unit that plans on continuing P&A campaigns in Deepwater operations for years to come. 

Brian Eiken has worked for several consulting firms over the last twelve years. He has found that Evolve Partners not only has a vision and Framework for delivering results, but the discipline to be true to the brand and create meaningful work for both our clients and ourselves! We do what we say we will do, for our clients and each other.