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Businessexcellence ACHIEVING




Gulf Drilling International

4 November 2011

Gulf Drilling International


ulf Drilling International (GDI) was formed in 2004 as a joint venture between Qatar Petroleum and Japan Drilling Co. Qatar Petroleum had a long history of working with Japanese contractors going back to the 1980s but eventually felt it made sense to have a national drilling contractor it could call upon. Evaluating all the options, Qatar Petroleum talked to many big names in the business before inviting Japan Drilling Co to join forces as a minority partner in a joint venture. “It was a modest operation,” says GDI’s marketing manager Mian Imtiaz. “Initially, with only one rig, the business was kept very busy purely working for our parent company. But as the fleet grew in size it meant that we had to create relationships outside of Qatar Petroleum where there were no favours being offered and we had to stand on our own two feet.” In fact, not only were there no favours, but for some time, it was difficult even to talk to the major players. “The big oil companies,” says Imtiaz, “prefer dealing with someone of similar status even if it means they have to pay higher rates. Mistakes can be extremely damaging for oil and gas companies, so there is a considerable aversion to taking risks which, of course, makes it difficult for newcomers to break in.” It’s not that individuals at the top of the organisation lacked experience. Chief operating officer Yochi Onoe has a long history in drilling; and Imtiaz had been with National Drilling Industries during the period it went from four

rigs right up to 20. The problem was that growth at GDI coincided with a boom time in drilling, bringing with it a period of volatility that had its greatest impact on the operational and engineering staff. “In 2007,” recalls Imtiaz, “the market suddenly went into frenzy. Operators were being poached left, right and centre. We would take someone on without having experience in the equipment we were using and train them up, only to see them walk away for a few dollars extra.” The bigger names had stronger magnets in the shape of higher rates and better perks. Imtiaz doesn’t blame workers looking out for themselves but is still smarting from the bruising GDI took at the time. Even with a full complement of staff it could be difficult at times even staying in operation. “Drilling is a business where parts are replaced regularly,” explains Imtiaz. “With such a level of sudden activity, spares became short in supply. Once again the large contractors fared better having their own inventories to call upon.” Nevertheless, despite a couple of years of uphill struggle, GDI hung in, thanks to the financial support and backing of Qatar Petroleum, and by so doing accumulated the track record it had previously lacked. With clearer water ahead, the fleet grew in size to the point where GDI now has five offshore and four onshore rigs and a workforce that has gone from 100 to 900. By sheer persistence, GDI has worked its way onto the drilling contractors register of Oxy Oil

Keppel Offshore & Marine Having established a world class shipyard

Further supporting Qatar’s vision to be the

in Qatar and delivered two jackup rigs, with

region’s new centre of excellence for offshore

another two on order, Keppel Offshore & Marine

and marine services, Nakilat-Keppel O&M

is a proven partner for Qatar’s offshore and

(N-KOM), a joint venture between Keppel O&M

marine industry.

and Qatar Gas Transport Company Ltd (Nakilat)

Keppel Offshore & Marine (Keppel O&M) is a

set up a 43-ha shipyard in November 2010.

global leader in offshore rig design, construction

Strategically located at the north-eastern tip

and repair, ship repair and conversion, and

of Qatar, near the country’s LNG terminals and

specialised shipbuilding. It integrates and

the Ras Laffan Industrial City, the yard offers

harnesses the experience and expertise of

a wide range of services including ship repair

20 yards and offices worldwide to be near

and conversion, rig refurbishment, and the

customers and markets.

fabrication of onshore and offshore structures.

Keppel FELS, a subsidiary of Keppel O&M, was

The yard has two VLCC-sized drydocks, with

contracted in May 2011 to build two high-

capacities of 350,000 deadweight tonnes (dwt)

specification rigs from returning customer Gulf

and 450,000 dwt. It also has two piers of 800m

Drilling International Ltd. (q.s.c.) (GDI) of Qatar,

length, two quays of 400m length and one

worth about US$393 million.

loading quay of 150m.

Built to Keppel’s proprietary KFELS B Class

Since its inauguration in November 2010,

Bigfoot design, the new jackup rigs are

N-KOM has successfully completed 37 projects.

customised to operate in the higher ambient

Its range of projects includes LNG carriers,

temperature of the Middle East. Each rig

tankers, support vessels and offshore structures

will have a full 15,000 psi BOP system,

such as jackup rigs and buoys. Many of these

75-feet cantilever outreach and be able to

units underwent general repairs and drydock

accommodate 150 persons.

survey or afloat repairs at N-KOM.

Mr Ibrahim J. Al-Othman, Chief Executive

Presently, N-KOM is also undertaking major

Officer of GDI said, “Keppel FELS is our trusted

repairs on two GDI jackups – Zikreet and

partner as they have proven themselves time

Al Doha. N-KOM is the only facility in Qatar

and again with high quality projects delivered

capable of undertaking the full spectrum of

safely, on time and within budget. We have a

works required for Al-Doha.

win-win relationship with them and the new

Backed by the track record of Keppel O&M,

rigs will enable GDI to expand its premium rig fleet to meet the needs of our customers in the Arabian Gulf promptly and reliably.” Keppel FELS previously also delivered two KFELS B Class jackup rigs, Al-Khor and Al-Zubarah, ahead of schedule, within budget and safely to GDI.

the yard continues to grow its repute as a provider of safe, reliable and quality services, and forge strong partnerships with a broad range of new and repeat customers.


Germanischer Lloyd, present in the GCC for over 20 years, has established itself as a reputable & major partner of oil & gas operators, international EPC, offshore & onshore drilling and other peripheral service providers. With offices in almost every major city in the world, GL managed to successfully support our local clients in achieving the targets of their strategic projects in term of cost, schedule and quality from source to destination. GL combined its strength with Noble Denton in 2009 & created a truly global advisor in oil & gas & marine services offering our clients a one-stop shop for: advance engineering, technical assurance covering the complete lifecycle of their onshore and offshore assets from reservoir to end users. Services include: Design Reviews & Certification, Independent Verification, World-wide TPI & Vendor Inspection, Risk Management, Integrity Management, Marine operations, Dynamic Positioning & Engineering This success could not have been achieved without the trust and support of our clients. On this occasion, GL would like to thank Gulf Drilling International for their trust and continued support to achieve high level of Quality, Health, Safety and Environment protection.

For further information: Doha Country Office, UPS Bldg., 2nd Floor, Airport Road

Tel: +974 44661909, Fax: +974 44661969 E-mail:

of Oman and—not without a little trepidation— Shell. “Shell has a reputation as a strict and very demanding taskmaster,” says Imtiaz. “It operates a global ranking system and when we started with them, we were naturally in the bottom quartile. Now we are in the third band and have a target to be in the top quartile by the end of this year. It’s an achievement which is good for our confidence and, of course, is a good recommendation for the wider community.” When asked what had been necessary to prove themselves, Imtiaz’s answer is simple: “Perform and deliver. But getting to this point meant a considerable amount of work behind the scenes. Probably the greatest achievement the management has had is to build a real team here at GDI. They have been able to change the mindset of staff at all levels of the operation and by empowering them in the work they do, have given them a deeper attachment to the success of the business.” It shows in the results. All of GDI’s rigs are currently in operation so the time has come to

Gulf Drilling International

It is far wiser to proceed slowly and do the job well than chase rapid expansion and risk giving less than total satisfaction to clients order two additional jack-up units from Keppel Fels in Singapore. The B-Class Bigfoot rigs are worth just short of US$400 million and are scheduled for delivery in the third quarters of 2013 and 2014. Customised to GDI’s requirements, the new rigs are being designed to operate in the higher ambient temperature of the Middle East. GDI is also looking at acquiring a couple of lift-boats—a kind of self-propelled barge that is found extensively in the Gulf of Mexico. “It’s a very versatile alternative to a more conventional rig,” says Imtiaz. “Because it’s self-propelled, it is easier, quicker and cheaper to move from job to job. It has enough deck space to

accommodate customer’s equipment—a crane or a pump for example—and with jack-up legs, it provides a solid base for short term work.” Having said that, with all major projects in and around Qatar having come to an end, GDI intends making more of the ‘International’ aspect of its name. “At the height of activity,” says Imtiaz, “there were 30 rigs drilling locally. Now there are only 10 offshore and half of these are ours! Nevertheless, we fully appreciate the truth that you are as good as the last job you do. As such, it is far wiser to proceed slowly and do the job well than chase rapid expansion and risk giving less than total satisfaction to clients.” BE


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