#Oil & Gas#Sustainability#Technology

Driving efficiency with Sapura Energy Berhad

Sean Galea-Pace
|Nov 28|magazine13 min read

As the world’s largest tender rig owner and operator, with nearly five decades of drilling experience in Asia, Middle East & Africa and South America, Sapura Drilling is used to keeping up with the market and staying at the forefront of the latest industry trends.

With a comprehensive continuous improvement strategy in mind, Raphael Siri, CEO of Sapura Drilling, believes that operating with an efficient approach remains the key ingredient to success. “We want to ensure that everyone is empowered to make the job as efficient as possible,” he says. “Efficiency comes with care. Our primary aim is to be proactive and put procedures in place that avoids incidents happening in the first place, including safety ones.”

As a group, Sapura Energy places significant value on people development and has set up several training initiatives to develop its staff’s skills. “There are two components to training our staff in Drilling business; offshore and onshore,” says Siri. “In terms of offshore, we have a comprehensive training matrix that is mandatory. For example, if you don’t complete your survival training then you won’t be able to fly in the helicopter, which ultimately means you can’t work.” 

“Secondly, we require our workers to complete company-specific training that allows them to perform their jobs in the safest and most efficient manner,” he explains. “Some of the training includes permit-to-work, confined space and ethics and compliance. We also offer more specific technical training based on an employee’s position that will benefit them on a daily basis.”

Siri affirms that onshore workers also have a training matrix, albeit less structured. “It’s more centred around observing the changing market rather than training itself. For example, for an employee working in finance, they would attend a tax conference to uncover the latest trends in the areas most relevant to them. There isn’t one method that suits all – we tailor training based on company and individual needs.”

“As part of the Sapura Energy Group, Sapura Drilling also benefits from programmes run by the parent company,” explains Siri. “One of the most recent training programmes offered under the Sapura Energy Group was the Master of Business Administration conducted in partnership with MIT Sloan School of Management. Some employees are currently taking this programme and is just one of the examples of our versatile onshore training programme.”

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The first thing I look for in our potential partner is their core values. They have to be in line with ours in order for the partnership to work” - Raphael Siri, CEO, Sapura Drilling


With its continuous improvement strategy at the forefront of decision-making, another area of focus for Sapura Drilling is the introduction of technology. Automation is empowering companies in all industries to accelerate their operations. In terms of Sapura Drilling, this means enhancing safety processes too. “Automation allows us to preempt equipment failures and plan more efficiently,” he says. However, Siri affirms there are limitations to consider as the world begins to embrace new technology and transform operations. “One of the biggest challenges we face is that we don’t always work in countries where they have sophisticated phone systems and landlines. All our units run on a satellite,” he explains. “But the world is changing. With all this data at our fingertips now, we must ask ourselves: ‘how do we generate the most value we can?’ Although gathering data is a good strategy to have, if you don't do anything with it then it's just a waste of time.”

In a bid to expand operations, companies are increasingly looking to establish strategic partnerships with one another to achieve mutual growth. Siri points to what he looks for in a partner when seeking to form a long-term business relationship. “The first thing I look for in a potential partner is their core values,” he explains. “They have to be in line with ours in order for the partnership to work. The corporate values have been our beacon for success. We are guided by honesty, trust and respect for all. We achieve our business objectives by being safe, agile and professional and continuously strive to meet our stakeholders’ expectations.”

The company’s tender rigs can be used for global operations in waters as shallow as 30ft to as deep as 6,000ft. Sapura Drilling uses two different types of Tender Assist Drilling rigs (TADs); a tender barge and a semi-tender rig. While both units can carry the same equipment, the semi-tender is capable of operating in deeper waters and in harsher environments. The TADs are usually stationed next to the platform, with its drilling package then lifted onto the platform. One of the major benefits of a TAD drilling rig is the ability to self-raise, remove its own drilling package and then rig-up the same package on another platform, resulting in greater efficiency and sustainability for the clients. 


While the importance of operating sustainably is vital to all companies’ future development, Siri believes sustainability at Sapura Drilling extends further than the traditional meaning. “It’s about ensuring our employee’s lives are as sustainable as possible,” he explains. “Do we pay them correctly and are we developing their communities in the right way? We have to train people properly and give them the knowledge to succeed long-term.” Siri adds that Sapura Drilling takes its sustainability initiatives on the financial and environmental side seriously too. “We’re not taking any risks that could materially hinder the company. As we operate in a range of countries with lots of employees, we have a duty of care,” says Siri. “We’re also trying to reduce our impact on the environment by questioning everything from the ground up to ensure we’re doing all we can.”

Looking to the future, Siri has a clear vision of the direction he aims for Sapura Drilling to be moving towards over the next few years. “We want to ensure we continue to develop into a sustainable and a reliable partner for our clients,” he summarises. “We also hope to grow in terms of our fleet, but this depends on mergers, acquisitions or newbuilds, which will be centred around the direction the market takes. Overall, we want to continue to be recognised worldwide. It’s about driving recognition and reliability as we move forward.”

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