The power of performance

Few industries are as demanding and as regulated as offshore oil and gas. Rapid technological advances, the world’s most stringent safety regulatory environment and across-the-board calls for quality, mean drilling companies must remain ever-vigilant in their focus on performance and outcomes.

  • Gunvor Hatling Midtbø
    Vice President, Communications

Odfjell Drilling, noted for being one of Statoil’s top tier suppliers, has been involved in international drilling since the early seventies. Today, the privately-owned company has an impressive fleet of semi-submersibles and drillships and over 3,000 employees operating in 20 countries worldwide.

The question is, just what is Odfjell Drilling doing differently in the crowded and extremely competitive offshore drilling market to make it a top ranked player? The Full Picture talked to Håkon Klepsvik, Vice President Technology & Projects at Odfjell Drilling to get the inside story.


Odfjell Drilling’s gross capital expenditure in new rigs has been in the range of NOK 20 billion. The company has two sixth generation semi-submersibles in operation and one newbuild under construction. With one exception, the company’s entire portfolio of 11 rigs is less than four years old.

“We have one of the most modern fleets in the drilling industry,” says Klepsvik. “Combined with experienced and skilled employees, we provide oil majors with the industry’s safest and most effective drilling operations.”

The company has established, developed and maintained its position as a preferred provider, as witnessed by a pre-contract award with BP for the provision of a newbuild, semi-submersible drilling unit for use in the UK’s West of Shetland region. The contract value is approximately USD 1.2 billion and is the largest contract in Odfjell Drilling’s history.

Currently under construction at Daewoo Shipbuilding&Marine Engineering (DSME) in Korea, the unit, Deepsea Aberdeen, is fixed with BP for seven years and is expected to drill more than 25 wells between 2014 and 2022.

“This unit, together with Deepsea Atlantic and Deepsea Stavanger, are of GVA 7500 design and are the most modern and efficient dual derrick, dynamic-positioned semi-submersibles in the market. This agreement with BP demonstrates that Odfjell Drilling’s commitment to building a modern fleet is definitely paying off,” says Klepsvik.


Klepsvik sees success as an incremental process. Can this lead to true differentiation in the market place? “Well, it’s more about evolution than revolution,” he says.

“We never begin from scratch. When building a rig or a series of rigs, we integrate 40 years of rig knowledge and market understanding with the latest offshore technology and future demands of users to make a complete, highly functional and operational unit,” he says. “Simply, we take what we had, and make it better. Much better.”

Such is the case with Odfjell Drilling’s sixth generation semisubmersibles. There is not much difference in basic design and some onboard technology compared to earlier generations, but the operational capabilities of sixth generation units are light years ahead.

For example, the rig capacity of a sixth generation semi-submersible is twice that of a third generation rig, enabling it to be engaged in a spectrum of operations including drilling exploration, production, well completion and workover operations.

Deepsea Aberdeen has a massive operating displacement of 55,122 metric tons and upper hull dimensions of 90 x 78m. These features will help ensure good motion characteristics in heavy seas. A variable deck load capacity of 7500mt ensures generous storage facilities under all operating conditions. Full winterization can be provided for operations in arctic environments. This means Odfjell Drilling’s sixth generation semi-submersibles have a high degree of logistical independence, which is necessary for cost-effective operations in the remote North Sea and other challenging areas around the world.

“Our new multi-purpose sixth generation units are built with the objective of improving performance considerably and are designed to fully meet the challenges of the future,” says Klepsvik.

The rig design focused on achieving the highest standards in the
industry for:

• Motion characteristics
• Natural heave period
• Increased deck area and storage capacities to ensure efficient logistics
• High air gap in operation condition and in survival
• Arctic design
• Environmental care

“We have one of the most modern fleets in the drilling industry” - Håkon Klepsvik Vice President Technology & Projects, Odfjell Drilling


While some in the industry argue that automation cannot be applied to drilling because it is an art form that needs human guidance, Odfjell Drilling sees a new track emerging. Intelligent automation and software control is rapidly increasing in sophistication and scope. Power management systems, drilling control systems and BOP control systems are just some of the areas where technology is taking on a space-age level of performance in safety and reliability.

“The largest difference between our newest rigs and previous generations is the demand for automation. Automation is not a goal in itself but a consequence of operators having to meet their goals for zero workers hurt on the job, reduced costs for extracting hydrocarbons and robust protection of the main asset, the drilling rig itself,” says Klepsvik.

Deeper waters (Odfjell Drilling’s sixth generation semi-submersibles are capable of operating in depths up to 3,000m), highly integrated systems and multiple concurrent activities, and even outer threats, such as piracy, are additional factors making automation a key variable in the future.

“Our strategy is to take on more responsibility in the value chain by offering a full range of integrated and automated marine systems,” says Klepsvik. “And to do so we partner extensively with KONGSBERG.”

Close collaboration and a commitment to understanding the extreme contexts in which drilling technology is applied are important driving forces behind Odfjell Drilling’s partnership with KONGSBERG.

“We have contracted KONGSBERG’s ‘Full Picture’ solution for all our sixth generation vessels. It offers a comprehensive scope covering systems such as DP 3 Dynamic Positioning, thruster control, bridge navigation, vessel automation, safety systems, riser management and Helideck Monitoring & environmental monitoring,” says Klepsvik.

Sixth generation semi-submersible.


The competitive advantage associated with a larger capital base and greater asset diversification is key to market share. Basically, the larger the company, the greater degree of diversification possible by geography, rig class, rig quality, contract duration and customer base.

To benefit from greater asset diversification, financial resources and economics of scale, Oddfjell Drilling has created two subsidiaries: Odfjell Drilling & Technology and Odfjell Well Services. The former is a leading contractor in the production drilling and engineering market, while the latter supplies a wide range of services to the oil industry.

“Though our core business is the design, ownership and operational management of semi-submersibles, drillships, jack-ups and modular drilling units, our subsidiaries play a strategic role,” says Klepsvik, “Not only do they keep us at the forefront of offshore services, they create a critical mass to sustain company growth, operational efficiency, technical edge and profitably.”


Odfjell Drilling & Technology has the people and services to take a project from field development to commissioning and operations. These people are united within a system of shared values. Safety is central in every undertaking.

“40 years of management experience resides within these walls, united and committed,” says Klepsvik. “This environment, where knowledge is shared and passed on through best practice, is highly valued by our clients.”

Odfjell Drilling does not outsource. Each project maintains a core team and unlike many in the industry, where there is no experience loop from operation back to design, the company is systematic about continuity and communication.

Committed and motivated people are central to achieving the company’s goals. But deeper waters, more challenging geology and greater complexity take more than this. Creativity is actively encouraged, maintains Klepsvik. “We are always looking forward. This is a necessity in an industry that can change virtually overnight.”

“The industry sees that we have focus and do a safe job” - Håkon Klepsvik Vice PresidentTechnology & Projects, Odfjell Drilling


During its four-decade-long history, Odfjell Drilling has provided management services for owners of semi-submersibles, drillships and jack-up drilling units worldwide. The services include project management and follow-up during the construction phase, management of regulatory requirements, marketing and client relations, commissioning and operations.

Most recently, Odfjell Drilling has entered into an agreement with Marine Accurate Well (Maracc) for the operation, project follow-up and marketing of the rig Island Innovator, which will be ready for drilling operations on the Norwegian continental shelf from summer 2013. This sixth generation unit is capable of conventional drilling to 1300m water depth and through tubing rotary drilling and heavy well-intervention to 3000m.

Odfjell Drilling has a team mobilized at Cosco Shipyard in China to ensure progress and the quality of the work. “We use a combination of operationally experienced people and engineers. Both are focused on understanding our clients and building good relationships with suppliers,” says Klepsvik.


There is a continual technology drive within the company, extending core business capabilities and maintaining leadership as the complexity of technology increases. The recent acquisition of Zenon Well Technology in Dubai represents such a step up in in-house technology development. Zenon’s solutions for wellbore cleanup represent a complementary range of services to those already offered by Odfjell Well Services.

“We have accelerated the growth of our internal technology development unit,” says Klepsvik. Both the product solutions and Zenon’s team of innovative people are important acquisitions, all part of the plan for continued global expansion. “It is important to have a critical mass of skilled people. That is one of our greatest assets in itself,” believes Klepsvik. “As this critical mass increases, so does our ability to tackle the larger, more complex challenges of the future.”

Odfjell Drilling has already established its presence in Norway, UK, US, Holland, South Korea, Philippines, Angola, Romania, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Kurdistan, Thailand, Tanzania and more. A focus on technical competence has earned them their position amongst the top three drilling companies worldwide.

“The industry sees that we have focus and do a safe job,” says Klepsvik. “We do things right the first time.”