SOURCE: Athens Group

June 09, 2009 08:00 ET

Software: The Invisible Root Cause of Equipment Failures and Safety Incidents

Athens Group Expert to Present at IADC World Drilling Conference

HOUSTON, TX--(Marketwire - June 9, 2009) - The Drilling Control System (DCS) manages 75 - 95% of the movement and operation of the equipment that causes the most injuries on the rig. At this year's IADC World Drilling Conference, Athens Group CTO Don Shafer will be sharing some incidents caused by software failure, including instances where lives were lost, and explain how these accidents could have been prevented.

Shafer will review the results of a recent NPT benchmark survey* of drilling contractors and operators that identifies the causes of equipment failure and recommendations to improve software integrity and reduce DCS-related equipment failures and safety incidents including:

--  Improved education on the importance of quality software, including
    the impact it has on safety and NPT
--  More thorough DCS and DCS-interface testing during FAT and
    Commissioning -- by drilling software experts
--  Industry-wide adoption of software quality standards
--  Standardization of equipment interfaces
--  The addition of a software engineering discipline, complementing the
    electrical, structural and mechanical engineering functions

The IADC World Drilling Conference will be held June 17th and 18th in Dublin, Ireland. Athens Group will be presenting the results of the complete survey at the conference. Advance copies may be obtained at

About Athens Group

The high rate of schedule delays and non-productive time (NPT) on today's highly automated offshore rigs is unacceptable! The annual cost of NPT on a high-specification offshore rig is U.S. $100 - $150M+ and 20 - 30% of NPT is Drilling Control System related*. As independent software consultants, Athens Group helps drilling contractors, operators, and equipment vendors reduce NPT, improve safety and increase operational efficiency by helping to prevent software-related equipment failures. Our Drilling Technology Assurance(SM) (DTA) Services were developed specifically for highly integrated rig and Drilling Control Systems, and have been proven to mitigate risk and remediate problems in all phases of the rig lifecycle. Athens Group has more expertise in this specialized area than any other vendor. Our DTA Knowledge Base includes our proprietary tools and methodologies; software, hardware, and network topology experience; and vendor drilling equipment experience. This combination of knowledge and experience speeds identification of risks and resolution of issues. At current day rates, the cost ratio of our services to NPT typically exceeds 100:1. Our customers, industry-leading companies such as BP, ExxonMobil, Noble Drilling, Stena, Conoco Phillips, Hess, Hydril, Pride, Maersk, Shell and Transocean, are all referenceable and over 70% have engaged us for multiple rigs.

*The State of NPT on High-Specification Offshore Rigs: First Annual Benchmarking Report

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