The Weekly Reflektion 26/2021

Harald Norvik the former chairman of Statoil, now Equinor, once said. The most important quality in a leader is to inspire the people in their organization. While one can motivate with the carrot or the stick, inspiration really does require something special.

The Ocean Alliance Drilling Rig

How do you inspire your people to do a good job?

The Ocean Alliance drilling rig was built at Scott Lithgows yard in Greenock. The Ocean Alliance was contracted by BP Norge in 1997 to drill the Nyk High prospect and was then used by Norsk Hydro to drill the discovery well on the Ormen Lange field. The Ormen Lange field is the second biggest gas field in Norway.

The Ocean Alliance was not designed to operate in Norway and there was a significant amount of work needed to get approval for the drilling operation from the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD). For some systems, modifications and upgrades were required to meet Norwegian requirements, and for some systems BP Norge intended to seek deviations. Cooperation with the discipline engineers and technical authorities in BP Norge was going to be essential to success.

The Drilling and Wells department often behaves as an independent entity in the oil companies and is often perceived this way by the other departments. The traditional approach is a formal request from Drilling and Wells to the respective departments involved in the rig intake and an expectation that everyone will recognise the importance of the drilling operation and will automatically prioritise the required work. The Drilling Manager in BP Norge at that time did not subscribe to this type of approach. He went round the office and talked to the people outside his organisation that he needed. He sat down and explained the challenges with the rig. He talked about why this rig was the right one to carry out the drilling operation and of course he talked about the opportunities for BP Norge and Norsk Hydro. The Drilling Manager explained that he needed their competence and their experience and that they would be part of a team that would deliver the exploration well safely and effectively. The challenges included managing modifications and assessing deviations and assuring NPD that the risks associated with using the Ocean Alliance were acceptable and the mitigation actions appropriate. The Drilling Manager wanted this to be a BP Norge success and something that the team would be proud of when they succeeded.

I knew several engineers that were involved in this project, and they all talked about how much they enjoyed working on the readiness project for the Ocean Alliance. I asked them how they managed to support the project and be able to carry out their day-to-day tasks at the same time. They admitted it was a busy period and that there were a few late nights, but they all managed.

When an individual is inspired by a leader, clearly sees his/her role in the context of the team and understands why the task is important for success then they will make their best efforts. People want to do a good job and they like to know that their efforts are appreciated and recognized. Sometimes it is enough with a chat over a cup of coffee and the message ‘I need you, are you with me?’.

Reflekt AS