Doing both forensic investigations of failures and designs for drilling rigs has given us a unique perspective of the cost, both through monetary loss and cessation of business, of failures. We have used this experience to provide an insightful analysis of the drilling industry in Western Canada.
Based on the forensic investigations we perform on drilling rig failures,* approximately 0.5% ** of the working rigs in Western Canada in any given year suffer a failure that can be related to the quality of engineering done on the rigs, or the engineer’s understanding of the conditions in the field. With approximately 800 rigs working in Western Canada in 2011, according to riglocator.ca, this means that, in all probability, four rigs can be expected to fail this year alone. These failures tend to be very expensive and often result in millions of dollars of cost, worker injuries, and occasionally go so far as to cause worker death. This kind of failure commonly results in major damage to or even a complete write-off of the drilling rig.
On the other side of the failure analysis equation, we have been designing drilling rigs for over 40 years. In that time, we have certified approximately 150 drilling rigs that have been fabricated to our custom designs. This represents approximately 3000 drilling years of service. In this time we have identified only 2 significant engineering errors on our part, both of which were caught and fixed before the rigs went into service. As a result of our diligence, we have had no rig failures of drilling or workover rigs designed by us, due to engineering error.
The reliability of the engineers you have designing or verifying your drilling rig designs can have a significant impact on your bottom line, your safety record, and your ability to do business. A small amount of extra engineering at the beginning of the project can save you a lot of money in the long run.
* We did not count failures related to transportation or third party equipment; only those that relate to engineering or operating instructions that the engineer should have provided.
** This statistic is based on investigations we have done. While we investigate the majority of the drilling and workover rig failures in Western Canada, there may be some that we did not investigate that fall into this statistical category.