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by J. Vazquez

November 14th, 2018

This past October, I attended the IADC Critical Issues Latin America Conference and Exhibition, in Mexico City.  Prior to this year, I had never attended any of IADC’s conferences, as I thought their focus was mostly drilling-specific issues.  To my surprise, many of the presentations focused on the effect safety and culture have on performance.  Interestingly enough, the most memorable part of the conference (other than the presentation about PinSAFE, of course) was a video clip presented by Christopher Goetz, when talking about how sometimes it seems that we missed major catastrophes by doing things that were not-necessarily-planned.  This was very much related to the topic of safety, as he touched on the tendency we all have on rushing things to get the ball rolling and maintain schedule. 


Below are the key frames of the video clip, as Buster first avoids the train hitting a sleeper by picking it up and then uses it to hit a second one out of the way – all while the train is moving.  The title of the slide where this video clip was included is Trying to Fix a Bug in Production.  CLICK HERE to watch the video clip, which is from the silent movie THE GENERAL with Buster Keaton. 


Key Snapshots from THE GENERAL by Buster Keaton, obtained from YouTube.

Below are a few more particulars from Mr. Goetz’s presentation.


Presentation: Lessons from 6th gen “Warm” & “Cold” Stacked Restarts, by Chris Goetz, Partner, Kingston Systems LLC. 4


One of the first key points Mr. Goetz makes is on the fact there are “different perceptions for what is ‘WARM’” (i.e., what is the degree of readiness and how much time/effort it takes to get the rigs ready to drill). Below are his suggestions from the lessons learned from having reviewed the ready-status of four 6th Gen Jackups, two semi’s, six drill ships and two drilling vessels.


  • Verify Rig Restart Approach & Expectations

  • Agree on Acceptance Approach

  • Include Vendors

  • Plan for Crew Ramp up

  • Encourage Client Interface Representative –Project Coordinator

  • Execute Endurance Testing

  • Wrt specific equipment


There were at least two additional presentations that discussed the effect culture and safety have in productivity. One of these presentations focused on how two sister (and for all practical purposes identical) drillships from Seadrill’s fleet (the West Carina and the West Tellus) had very different performance records over the same time span and working in essentially the same conditions, due to the differences in the culture of the personnel on each vessel. The particulars of this presentation is given below.


Presentation: Performance X Safety Analysis of Drillship West Carina & West Tellus Operating in Brazil Offshore by Jose Newton Melo Junior, Technical Supervisor, Leonardo Paschoal Guimarães, Quality Manager-Western Hemisphere, Marcos Losito-Seadrill Servicos de Petróleo Ltda


Another presentation, given early in the conference and referred to often by later presenters was given by Jon Richards and Dave Massey.


Presentation: Building a World Class Safety Culture by Design by Jon Richards-Vice President Global Operations, Diamond Offshore and Dave Massey- President, The REACH Group


In their presentation, Richards and Massey included a slide quoting MIT Professor Edgar Schein as saying “the ONLY THING of real importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture” and “if you do not manage culture, it manages you, and you may not even be aware of the extent to which this is happening.”


Expanding on this subject, I direct you to Tim Kuppler article on “Culture University,” entitled Culture Fundamentals - 9 important insights from Edgar Schein.


The Culture University website also has a related article entitled 20 Organizational Culture Change Insights from Edgar Schein.


Finally, Richards and Massey point out that in our industry, we have a few assumptions (that may not be valid). These are three of the assumptions they listed:

  1. People with the best technical expertise make the best leaders.

  2. Having the right policies and procedures in place will guide our behaviors.

  3. An efficient safety and operational performance culture will happen over time.


I used to have a coworker who often reminded me that when you promote your best technical person to become a manger, you are likely to end up with a poor manager and no star technical person. From my experience, I can tell you that I was quite happy being a high technical performer and very uncomfortable managing people. Over the years, I think I’ve learned, but it took a while to make the transition.

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