Atlas provides re-activation and transit crew for Valaris’ Gorilla VII

9 September 2021

Atlas Professionals in New Zealand, in co-operation with its Aberdeen office, were successful in securing the labour force scope of works for Valaris Gorilla VII jack-up rig during its New Zealand-based operations after a competitive tender process.  

In the first half of 2021, one of Atlas' valued global clients Valaris PLC, bagged a long-term drilling campaign in New Zealand with OMV New Zealand Ltd, another big name in Atlas Professionals' New Zealand clientele. The contract is for the Valaris JU-249 (Gorilla VII), completing a 400-day campaign at the Maui Bravo platform off the Taranaki coast, commencing in December 2021 and expected to run through until January 2023.  

Re-activation works 

At the time of contracting, the Gorilla VII was in the Dundee Shipyard, and hence required several months of re-activation works, and preparations for being loaded onto the Heavy Lift vessel for its 70-day transit to New Zealand. 

These preparations have required support from both Atlas’ Aberdeen office and the New Zealand office in parallel. The Aberdeen office has been providing support to Valaris with both shipyard crews during re-activation works and with transit crews, as they continue supporting the New Zealand office and their crews joining the rig in Dundee. 

The New Zealand office has also provided local New Zealand crews to the shipyard in Dundee, to provide important training, familiarisation, and time on board in preparation for its arrival to New Zealand. This valuable time on the rig will ensure the highest levels of competency on board when it commences operations upon arrival into New Zealand ensuring timely and safe operations.  

COVID challenges 

With New Zealand’s borders being closed to all foreign personnel and strict re-entry requirements even for New Zealand citizens – sending crews up to Dundee from New Zealand has had its fair share of challenges.

The business undertook a formal risk assessment prior to sending crews overseas to ensure appropriate mitigation measures were in place. These included providing crews with COVID travel packs, pre-booking of door-to-door travel in Aberdeen, ensuring COVID arrival procedures and tests were in place in conjunction with the Aberdeen office amongst others. 

The biggest challenge, however, has been in securing re-entry managed isolation quarantine spaces for the New Zealand-based crews. With only a single point application process, securing quarantine slots for crews has required staff monitoring the system every 30 seconds for months on end – an enormous task that Atlas handled efficiently not only for its own staff, but also for the client’s staff.  

Continuous collaboration 

COVID challenges aside, the collaboration with Valaris continues to cement a very longstanding relationship Atlas has with the company, both globally and in New Zealand. New Zealand has previously supported Valaris in 2006 with the Ensco 5006, and in 2013 with the Ensco 107 before the rig moved to Australia along with several of our New Zealand-based crews. 

Over the coming months, Atlas will continue to support Valaris with the rig riding crew (from the Aberdeen office), along with Visa entry processes into New Zealand for Valaris crew, Atlas UK crew, Atlas NZ crew, and 3rd party contractors, rig arrival formalities, and repatriation of UK based crews.  

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