Platinum Explorer scores badly but ONGC happy

Vol 15, PW 21 (03 May 12) Exploration & Production

ONGC is defending Vantage Drilling deepwater drillship Platinum Explorer despite indications in its latest performance review report that the rig isn’t meeting expectations.

Last month (April) ONGC reviewed the performance of all offshore rigs it owns or on hire during the last fiscal, 2011-12, which ended on March 31. In ONGC’s performance review - seen by this report - Platinum scores poorly compared to Transocean-owned and operated deepwater drillship DD-KG-1.

A shocked industry source points out a deepwater rig’s poor performance has high costs. “ONGC is paying over half a million dollars a day for Platinum,” he says.

“Add $50m every year to Baker Hughes for rig services and it comes to nearly $1m/day!” Platinum, which began working for ONGC in December 2010 on a five-year contract at an Effective Day Rate of $642,285, has a ‘cycle speed’ of only 564 metres/month drilled according to the performance report. Compare this to the much better 1578 metres/month cycle speed of DD-KG1, on hire to ONGC since May 2009 at an Operating Day Rate of $563,488.

A driller explains a rig’s cycle speed is measured from the time it spuds a well until it spuds the next well. But Platinum doesn’t fare better when assessed on ‘commercial speed’, or actual time spent drilling at a location.

Platinum’s commercial speed was again only 564 metres/month against DD KG-1’s 2309 metres/month for the last fiscal. “Why are you asking about the performance of deepwater rigs” said a senior ONGC source when contacted.

“Deepwater drilling is complicated, not like drilling onland wells in Mehsana or elsewhere. Cycle speed and commercial speed parameters aren’t applicable.

We’re satisfied with Platinum’s performance.”