The successful delivery of four drilling rigs to BP/AIOC (Azerbaijan International Operating Company) between 2005 and 2007 led to a fifth order, which, together with new exploration areas being awarded to the oil companies, set the stage for further growth in the region.
Aker Solutions’ Caspian drilling adventures date back to 1997, when we won the Dada Gorgud and Istiglal (Shelf 5) projects. At that time we had no formally registered office, only a temporary project office which was located inside Aker Rauma Offshore. Charlie Kidd had come over from our UK office as project manager. He employed Rufat Ziyatkhanov as a service engineer the same year, making him our first national employee in Azerbaijan. 14 years later Ziyatkhanov is still there, but he now has 44 Aker Solutions colleagues.
A definite stayer
“We have a good team and a good working environment here in Baku. In fact, our low turnover of people must be proof that we do something right,” says Ziyatkhanov whose daily working life now evolves around the service department, projects, upgrades and training of service personnel.
George Taggart, regional manager in Baku, has beein in Azerbaijan since 1999. “At that time Aker Solutions was in the process of completing the installation and commissioning of the drilling equipment supply to the Caspian Drilling Company/Santa Fe rig Istiglal (previously Shelf 5). This was an exciting time, as we were shifting our focus from a project phase to establishing the capacity to support the new rigs in operation. This brought with it many challenges, especially with regards to setting up a new company and employing new national permanent staff.”
Overhaul and service agreements
The national staff in our Baku office today numbers 34 and the expat staff eleven. “In addition to the COP project, our main activities today focus on the OSA (operational service agreement) with BP/AIOC for the supporting of the four ACG rigs,” says Taggart. “We also have the CDC (Caspian Drilling Company) Dada Gorgud semisub equipment in our workshop for a five year overhaul. Today Aker Solutions has seven rigs in operation in the Caspian Sea and surrounding areas.”
“In recent months, Aker Solutions has revamped many of our processes, encouraged an open and honest dialogue with our clients and put in place certain checklists and controls to improve the quality of our work and customer relations,” says Taggart.
He says they are working hard to ensure that they continue to deliver high quality in all activities, and have recently brought in Stuart Florance, an experienced workshop overhaul and repair manager from the UK office.
Rurat Ziyatkhanov is optimistic about the future: “We are currently talking to BP about the OSA and the new agreement should include a greater range of services. This will include the full suite of training solutions and one or possibly two simulators that we will use for training, performance optimisation and control system verification purposes.”
The team is currently in the process of reviewing potential premises for combined workshop and simulator facilities.
“We are currently located in an old workshop facility with our offices five kilometres away. We hope to relocate into a combined office/workshop/training facility at a later stage. We believe a new facility, incorporating the latest technologies, simulators and more will make Aker Solutions stand out in the Caspian area and thus secure a long and profitable future operating in Azerbaijan,” he says.
Taggart adds that the market situation is very promising and we have several promising projects and upgrades that could come our way within 2011. “BP and other international oil companies have recently secured new areas for exploration in the Azeri Caspian Sea which could ultimately lead to many more new field development projects,” Taggart concludes.