COSL Drilling Europe asks Atlas for assistance for prestigious Tamarind Resources contract in New Zealand

Atlas’s offices in Aberdeen and Stavanger have been working with COSL Drilling Europe to support their operations in Norway and the UK since 2013. When the Stavanger-based company took an important strategic decision to invest in the Asia Pacific (APAC) region for the first time, COSL Drilling Europe turned to Atlas Professionals in New Zealand to assist them with their specialist recruitment requirements. 

After a 20-year career in offshore drilling, Osvald Borgen, HR & Administration Director joined COSL Drilling Europe shortly after the company had been established in 2005, when it only employed 15 people. In a decade the Norwegian company (owned by China Oilfield Services Limited) grew rapidly, at its peak employing 1,000 people. 

Although COSL Drilling Europe, like others in the market, has been hit by the slump in activity in the last few years, Osvald says there are definite signs the market is improving and the company is positive about the future. “We are quite confident that we will win new contracts for rigs and then we will need additional people.”

COSL Drilling Europe started working closely with Atlas Professionals in early 2018 when it won a major contract in New Zealand. Until this time the company’s drilling activities had mainly centred on the UK, Norway and Denmark. COSL Drilling Europe operates four modern drilling units and two accommodation units.

First contract in APAC region 

The company entered into an agreement with Tamarind Resources Pte Ltd for drilling operations with its semi-submersible rig, COSLProspector in New Zealand. Tamarind is the owner of the Tui Field, and the contract consists of three firm wells, and options to extend the contract terms for up to one optional side-track development well and up to one optional exploration well, all to be drilled within the Tui permit. 

Osvald comments: “New Zealand is a new area for us, so we had to start looking for a company which could provide local expertise and labour resources.” The majority of the Atlas recruits are for offshore positions but COSL Drilling Europe also needed some help for the office that has been established in New Plymouth and will be staffed by at least 50% local people.

Eyeing opportunities

COSL Drilling Europe has made a significant commitment to the APAC region, he points out. The rig had been sailing for around four months by the time it arrived in mid-June. COSLProspector departed Norway in mid-February, went via Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Port Elizabeth, in South Africa and Fremantle, Australia. The rig was fully up and running shortly after its arrival at the end of June. “To take a drilling unit all the way from Norway to the other side of the world, it is clear we want to stay for the long-term in New Zealand and we are also eyeing the Australian market and looking for new opportunities there.” 

COSL Drilling Europe has already won another contract after Tamarind with Austrian oil and gas company OMV, where the rig will operate in the Taranaki Basin. Drilling operations for Tamarind are expected to take 110 days for the three wells, with an option for two at 80 days. OMV is contracted for two wells, lasting 80 days and then with an option for two more.

Initially, around 125 people will be stationed on the COSLProspector for the Tamarind contract, around 60 % which are from New Zealand and have been supplied by Atlas Professionals “Atlas has certainly met our requirements for quality people,” he says. 

“A safe operation is always the main focus and the environmental requirements in New Zealand are also very strict. We know it is most essential for us to fulfil these requirements. I believe this a major reason why we won the contract - we have a very good reputation for safe and efficient operations and our rigs are modern and fit for that operation.”

Focus on training and teamwork

COSL Europe has a minimum requirement for all of the positions it has asked Atlas to fulfil, and then when the company takes the new personnel onboard, the new recruits undergo a comprehensive training programme.  “In fact, we started to take many of them onboard in Las Palmas in March, so we have already been able to offer on the job training and familiarisation with the systems.” As well as this, the emergency team, S&R people, HR, HSE and logistics recruits have all undertaken several courses outside of the unit and some at the HQ in Norway.

Atlas and COSL Europe have worked very closely regarding training but also they have focused on bringing the teams together – COSL Europe’s own people with the Atlas professionals. Osvald expects that over time, more key people from Norway will be replaced by local personnel because it is certainly a long way from home for the Norwegians.

Good feedback

“It is always a challenge to get the right crew and then have them to work together in a safe and efficient way. But we have very good feedback about our new personnel. The cooperation with Atlas is working very well and the personnel they have provided are a good fit, both offshore and in our office. We are very happy with the Atlas people!

“I am for sure optimistic for the future, even if the market still has some challenges. With our reputation and quality of work, I believe it will be just a matter of time before we get a new contract in APAC region or in the North Sea.”