Helium One plc (LON:HE1) Chief Executive Officer David Minchin and Drilling Superintendent Mike Williams caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss how the rig is progressing, the recent visit to the rig, what’s happening on site and being on track to drill this year.
Q1: David, how have things been progressing with the rig?
A1: Things are going very well. We’re progressing towards the independent audit, we’re working with the rig owners through pre-inspection checklists to make sure the rig is ready and on track for our 2022 drilling campaign.
We’re in the process of making some minor enhancements which need to be done before the rig audit is finalised to ensure that everything is working properly and it’s all suitable for the helium exploration campaign that we’re undertaking this year.
Q2: Mike, you’ve been to see the rig recently. How did it look?
A2: The rig is in good condition which is why I was able to recommend it to David and the Helium One board.
Now, obviously we don’t know everything about the rig until we put the mast up and run it under pressure, this is the purpose of the external rig inspection to test all the operational aspects of the drilling rig under mechanical load for a prolonged period of time.
It’s a common due diligence in the oil and gas industry and certainly something that I would recommend to any operator conducting land drillings in a remote location such as Rukwa.
Q3: So, what’s been happening on site since you visited?
A3: The rig continues to be a hive of activity as the rig owner goes through the pre-inspection checklist provided by our inspection company, ADC. We all know the importance of mud to a successful drilling operation so we’ve requested the complete strip down and rebuild of the mud pumps and fluid system. Atlas Copco have been onsite to provide a software update on the rig control systems as well as an inspection of the rig carrier and Mantrac have inspected and serviced the electrical generator on site.
We have daily calls with the rig owner to keep abreast of developments and to get up to date media files, for instance the main engines running under load or the rig carrier road test.
In parallel, they have been preparing all of the export paperwork such as providing bills and materials with serial numbers and full spare part inventory to ensure that once we get the green light, we can mobilise as soon as possible.
All the work we are currently doing is vitally important to ensuring the rig is in the best condition it can be prior to mobilisation as it’s much easier to make any tweaks in the year than it is at the site.
Q4: Are Helium One still on track to drill this year?
A4: (David): There’s a few steps to go yet before we can contract the rig, we know that things always take longer in Africa than you anticipate when you start these things but I’ll be flying out soon to finalise the rig and supervise the mast up before the inspection. Mike is going to join me when the rig inspection begins soon after that.
Interestingly, the rig isn’t actually on the critical timeline for drilling this year because it’s already in East Africa, therefore it’s a quick and easy logistically to get it into Rukwa. However, inspecting and contracting the rig is the trigger to mobilise all the long lead third party services such as wireline tools and testing equipment etc.
(Mike) Yes, very much so. We’ve been planning around any potential logistical choke points and have already mobilised some long lead items such as the casing strings and the drill bits because we wouldn’t want the operation to be delayed by congestion for example, at the port of Shanghai.