Drilling for the future

Qatar has become a major global player on many different levels in the past few decades. Strengthened by its natural gas reserves (third largest in the world after Russia and Iran), the emirate is now viewed as a fast advancing country with numerous developments in healthcare and education. Qatar’s successful bid to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup has further spurred the country to build an infrastructure fit for the event, as hundreds of thousands of fans are expected to travel to Qatar in four years’ time to see the best national teams contest football’s most cherished prize. New roads, light rail transportation, and, of course, new stadiums and other sporting facilities are currently being built to get the emirate ready for the time it will be in the limelight with the eyes of the world affixed on the country.

Oil reserves were first discovered in Qatar in 1939 and while World War II delayed exploitation by several years, oil soon replaced pearling and fishing as the country’s main source of revenue. Fast forward to 2004 when Gulf Drilling International (GDI) was established as the first onshore and offshore oil and gas drilling company in Qatar as a joint venture between the country’s national oil corporation Qatar Petroleum, and Japan Drilling Co. GDI specialises in the provision of drilling rig and associated services to the oil and gas exploitation and production companies in the State of Qatar, and was established with the aim to contribute to the social sector of Qatar by creating appealing job opportunities, as well as support the growth of the national economy and help the country achieve its 2030 vision for sustainable social, economic, human, and environment development.

Three years after the foundation of GDI, in 2007, Qatar Petroleum raised its ownership in the company to 70 per cent, and a year later, all of its shares were transferred to Gulf International Services, which became a public shareholding company in May 2008. In the year of GDI’s tenth anniversary, Gulf International Services acquired all the remaining Japan Drilling Co shares to make GDI a 100 per cent Qatari-owned company. It was also in 2014 that the company’s head office was relocated to West Bay, in order for GDI to position itself closer to its clients.

Rapid growth has marked the business’ 14 years of operation. During this time, GDI’s fleet has grown to 20 assets and its workforce to approximately 1600 employees. Its current fleet consists of nine offshore jack-up drilling rigs, eight land rigs, two liftboats and one accommodation jack-up. Three of the nine offshore rigs owned by GDI are conventional, with the rest being hi-spec, premium rigs. The conventional rigs – Al Doha, Al Wajba, and Msheireb, have each undergone extensive upgrades, refurbishments, and life extension work over the last few years, while the hi-spec, premium ones have all been built relatively recently and have been specifically designed for operations in Qatar. The conventional rigs are rated for a maximum drilling depth of 6000 metres, while the hi-specs can drill down to a maximum of 9000 metres. Out of GDI’s eight onshore rigs, five are drilling, and three are work-over rigs. All eight are currently contracted exclusively to Qatar Petroleum and are rated for maximum drilling depths ranging from 3000 metres to 9000 metres.

Financial security
Early in 2016, GDI took delivery of the firstever Qatar-built liftboat, Al Salfliya. Built to the ORCA 2500 design by the Nakilat-Keppel Offshore & Marine joint venture, the unit is customised for operations in the Middle East and North Africa region in water depths of up to 65 metres. It features four tubular legs, a 200-tonne leg encircling crane and a 50-tonne pedestal crane, an open desk space of around 800 square metres, a helideck, and accommodation capacity of 130 persons. The company has made considerable investments to support its drilling operations over the years. A new central warehouse providing spares and consumables to the rigs, is in place, and so is a sizable workshop, which keeps the repair and maintenance systems up to the OEM and industry standards. Furthermore, all onshore crews can benefit from a modern camp facility. GDI has also equipped itself with a number of cranes and articulated vehicles to assist with rig moves, together with four water well units.

As a company which values its people and is convinced that it is its workforce that makes the difference, GDI strives to maintain safe, efficient, and cost-efficient work practices across all of its operations. It has assembled a team of highly-trained and motivated employees with a diverse cultural background that has achieved remarkable safety records and a caring culture. The company aims to continuously perfect its technical capabilities and corporate drives to ensure sustainable growth, whilst making positive contributions to the enhancement of social prosperity in Qatar.

In 2017, GDI signed a $925 million structured Shari’a compliant financing facility with its long-standing partner, Qatar Islamic Bank, which will be used to enhance the company’s operational and financial performance. The deal is expected to put GDI in a good position to capitalise on the new opportunities arising as market conditions become more favourable.

Underpinned by the financial security provided by Qatar Islamic Bank and the entire State of Qatar whose ambitions in the oil and gas sector do not seem to be fading any time soon, GDI looks poised to remain a key and valued entity within the industry not just in the country, but also in the entire MENAregion. With the market regaining some of its previous appeal and the well-developed and reliable fleet GDI operates, the company has an optimistic outlook for the future.

Gulf Drilling International

Services: Oil and gas drilling