Shell tells OTC of new management tactics for Brutus project

Shell International Exploration and Production Inc.'s Brutus project, a deepwater tension leg platform slated for installation this summer, used new management tactics, executives told the Offshore Technology Conference. Shell used a standardization document published by the Project Management Institute.


By the OGJ Online Staff

HOUSTON, May 1 -- Shell International Exploration and Production Inc.'s Brutus project, a deepwater tension leg platform slated for installation this summer, used new management tactics, executives told the Offshore Technology Conference.

The project used the Project Management Institute's Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK), a standardization guideline established by the Project Management Institute, Newtown Square, Pa., a nonprofit professional organization.

The organization's goal is to promote project management principles and to establish a network of project management experts and professionals. Standardization is needed as various elements of the offshore energy industry need a common language and common operating procedures so they can better communicate with each other on complex deepwater projects, panelists told a Monday OTC session.

Shell is assembling a tension leg platform for Brutus field at Ingleside, Tex. Later this month it is due to tow the platform to Green Canyon Block 158 in 2,985 ft of water in the Gulf of Mexico. Installation should be complete this summer, with production anticipated in the third quarter (OGJ Online, Apr. 25, 2001).

"The procedures developed for the Brutus project were grouped and aligned in accordance with the PMBOK," said L.R. "Ron" Rowland, construction chairman with Shell International Exploration & Production Inc., New Orleans.

"A standardized work breakdown structure and a new financial software system are just two examples," of new project management tactics used, Rowland said.

"The approach gave team members new insights into achieving the objectives and reinforced the basic principles of project management. Customer expectations were exceeded and efficiency improved," Rowland said.

Future project teams can achieve benefits by similarly organizing their project management processes, he said.

Paul S. Allen, chairman and CEO of The ROAD Group LLC, Houston, said projects must be able to stand on their own financially, capable of paying their own bills.

"Cash flow is king in project finance," he said. "People behave as rewarded -- tie the cash flow to the performance you want to see."

Richard Westney, of Westney Project Services Inc., Houston, said deepwater projects are costly and high-risk. Project management tactics help companies gauge the accuracy of estimates for time and cost projections, he said.

"You often see project risk mismanaged," he said, adding one example is when projects are approved based upon anticipated return on investment but the ROI is based on a minimal analysis of risk. "Decisions based on incomplete information," he said.

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