How to Survive a Rig Inspection: Part 4

Rig Inspection

In this 16 part series, our head of Rig Inspection Services Steven Lee shares tips on how operators and owners can get through rig inspections with flying colours – and which pitfalls to avoid! Mr Lee has more than a hundred rig inspections under his belt, from all parts of the world. In this chapter, we look at the inspection of drilling equipment.

There is no getting around this, but the majority of companies who charter oil rigs will place a higher priority on the drilling equipment and are generally more familiar with the drilling equipment than, say, the power generation systems or marine systems.

Rig inspection teams will be focused upon certain aspects of the drilling equipment. On cyber controlled rigs with complex anti-collision systems, one the first areas they will ask to see is the Local Equipment Room (LER) and specifically anti-collision lockout switches.

What is found there will give the inspection team a great insight into the operation of that rig.

Drilling Equipment Drilling Equipment

The photo on the left shows the anti-collision keys in place and potentially uncontrolled, whereas the photo on the right shows that all anti-collision keys have been removed and are controlled. An inspection team will want to see that this is in line with the rig’s operational procedures.

The team will review drilling equipment safety devices, verifying they are operational and that the rig crew understand their function. For example, one of the more common types of modern iron roughnecks that are fitted with anti-crush sensors and light curtains within their scissor extension arrangement. Normally, these safety devices are only active while the machine is being operated electronically from either remote controls or the drillers controls, and not when in local hydraulic control.

Numerous rig inspections have found this type of equipment being operated via the local controls, thus rendering the safety devices redundant and that the operators of the equipment were unaware of this situation.

Inspections will often include tubular handling exercises and the rig inspection teams will want to see that the equipment operates as designed. The key to this, particularly when the equipment has not been operated for some time, is to carry out in-house testing in advance.

When approaching drilling equipment testing, one should follow exactly the same process as with normal operations. Use the same HSE tools, such as toolbox talks and risk assessments and, where appropriate, permits to work before any operations commence. Again, an inspection team will be monitoring this aspect as much as the actual performance of the equipment.

Additional aspects to rig acceptance of the drilling equipment will be review of the certification. This will include review of items such as the API 8B Category inspections, Rotary Hose certification and service inspection reports for main equipment items.

A good inspection team should be able to provide a full list of required documentation in advance of any inspection to allow this to be gathered. This documentation will often include the equipment manuals. Teams will want to see that this is available onboard the rig.

As discussed in part one of this blog, preparation of both the operators and equipment is key to succeeding in a rig inspection.

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