How the UK’s Dando Drilling is Dealing With a Turbulent 2016

Here at Viking West, it’s important to stay in touch with our friends and colleagues in the drilling industry. We’re the North American dealer for Dando Drilling and we’ve built a great working relationship with the guys across the pond in the last few years.

So, in the wake of the European Union’s referendum a few weeks back, we decided to check in with Callum Mee and the gang to see how things were going.

Kelvin: Brexit aside, how has business been for Dando in the first half of 2016?

Callum: It’s been quite busy, now that I think of it. Last week I was at the Hillhead Exhibition, which was interesting. I also recently attended a geotechnical show up in London as well, so it’s been busy in just the past month or so.

Overseas in the last six months has been busy as well. We’ve been exploring some potential contracts overseas as well as here in Europe and Asia. We normally work with two teams, one working with larger contracts and then another on the client relations, the smaller details. So that approach has led to some great conversations. Indonesia is busy, Sudan has come back online, there’s a lot of interest from Pakistan. The exports side has picked up considerably as confidence is re-established in global markets. Latin America is showing interest and strength as well. We have great representation in many countries in central and south America and our efforts are beginning to bear fruit.

Has the European referendum slowed things down for Dando?

It has had some impact in the UK but we expect this to be short term. Early in the year we got off the ground with some pace and there’s still a lot going on, we have a lot going through our workshop and some great leads that we expect to convert soon. We’ve been speaking to companies and contractors, some of the big companies are still busy, but a lot of that is due to the fact some of those companies are still expanding, so they’re busy in other areas in the industry. Overall the referendum has had little impact on us as most of our business is overseas. One positive side in the short term is that we have become more competitive as the pound has weakened.

That’s definitely good news. The global drilling community has been dealing with a worldwide recession, and then the referendum develops. It’s good to know that people are pushing through. What are some of the specific methods you’ve used to overcome these hurdles?

We really try to turn the focus back on ourselves, to internalize the challenges. We’ve had to adapt and make changes like everybody else. Our product range has grown over the last couple of years in line with market demands. People no longer have the cash to invest in large capital plans so they are looking for cheaper machines that have multifunctional capabilities to allow them to make their offering more diverse. This is an area where we have focused our efforts along with continued improvements of all our products. We’ve also made a number of changes internally with a view to streamlining processes in all departments which allows us to improve productivity and our competitiveness.

We believe that the recession presents choices and opportunities rather than problems – a time to reflect on our own operations as well as product range.

We have our own unique challenges, most of our success and growth comes from the export market. It’s important to get the best structure, the right people on board, and spend the right amount of time and effort in design. We believe the recession is loosening, so we want to take initiative now instead of waiting. The minimum market will come back online and we want to be well equipped when that happens.

At Viking we talk a lot about controlling what you can control in light of the turbulent price of oil. What advice do you have for companies or people feeling the pinch of the economy?

I think ultimately you need to concentrate on your strengths. At Dando, that’s always been our flexibility. We work with customers to build custom rigs. We’ve taken years of that experience and it’s really stronger now more than ever. We’ve made several rigs over the last few years from scratch and we’ve tried to build on that and make the process easier for us and easier for the customer. The modular design is a big part of that direction in which we’re headed. People can now swap out components easily, which makes their lives a lot easier. With both the sales team and the design team, it’s important to maximize our strengths to make sure we’re understanding and utilizing them efficiently.

Callum and the gang are always so great to talk to – what was intended as one post has grown as well. Check in next week to learn more about the specific improvements to Dando’s Mk 2 Terrier.

Climbing the Ladder: How to Land Oil Rig Jobs With Big Potential

Our work at Viking West is based on finding ways to augment machines with helpful attachments that are cost competitive, guarantee safety, and get the job done quick.

No small order, right?

Well, the best way to go about the process of building these attachments is to talk to people. This means we have a lot of discussions with original equipment manufacturers, dealers, and hard working men and women committed to the drilling industry.

Fortunately, we’ve watched a lot of colleagues work with new recruits who have been positive additions and able to climb the ladder in their respective companies. It’s not easy – particularly given the state of the economy and the imbalance between oil’s supply and demand – but now more than ever, valuable resources will rise to the top.

Here’s a few ways to find a valuable fit, followed by ensuring you are a valuable fit.

Evaluating Potential

The first perspective we’re going to consider is that of the potential employee, he or she on the job-hunt. In order to prove yourself a valuable asset, it’s important to determine the opportunity awaiting for you.

  • What do the company’s future prospects look like?
  • Does the company have a void you could fill with unique skills?
  • Can you push the business over the top?


If there’s a fit in terms of financial logistics, that’s great news. The next step is determining fit based on the company’s values, mission statement, and how its employees and contractors conduct themselves on a day to day basis.

In short, can you see yourself fitting into the culture of this company? If we’re all yes’s so far, let’s assume you’ve snagged the job. Now it’s time to perform.

Performance in Entry Level Positions

Some companies call them floorhands, others leasehands, but one thing is for sure, all hands must be on deck and ready to go when you’re working in an entry level position. You might be tasked with general labour and maintenance responsibilities, but if you’re eyeing an ascension up the company corporate hierarchy, it’s probably a good idea to do the best job you can possibly do no matter what.

It happens to educated recruits with tangible, technical expertise; it happens to veterans who’ve spent years in the industry – but it’s beneficial to buy into the new guy mentality.

And just because you’re busy with entry level tasks doesn’t mean you can’t learn more about how the work is done and how you can move up through the system.

Acquiring Technical Expertise

The level up from entry level is one of the sweet spots in the drilling industry, both from the deckhand’s perspective and the perspective of the company.

Why? Because these positions are based on value contracts. The worker is ambitious, eager, and focused on improving their skills moreso than they’re worried about their salary. This is the level where people get to work on more sophisticated drilling rigs and machinery. They’re contributing to the work of the company and well on their way to becoming a valued member as they climb the ladder.

We’ll stop here, because it’s important to learn the ropes before moving into management positions. There’s big benefit to learning the ins and outs of a company. if you can do that at an entry level position, you’ll be well on your way toward leveraging that into more responsibility, more input, and eventually a greater salary.

Everybody wins!

4 Ways to Commit to Offshore Drilling Rig Safety

According to the Wall Street Journal, “government and industry officials continue to wrestle with a problem investigators say was at the heart of the 2010 Gulf oil spill: human error.”

There are a lot of differences when you’re drilling into the earth below the surface of the ocean as opposed to setting up your drilling rig in the South American jungle, the northern Canadian prairies, or the brutal high arctic.

The main difference we’re going to focus on here is the isolation. Drilling teams could be stationed 25 km’s from the shoreline, but it could be 250 km’s and the same environment would completely surround the hard-working men and women who commit to that lifestyle.

Isolation, hard work, and extreme conditions are the perfect recipe for unfortunate offshore incidents. Here’s five ways to avoid those accidents.

1. Work Life Balance

Kind of a reversal of this post’s introduction, but since the biggest cause of injury is human error, it stands to reason that focus and concentration are keys to offshore drilling rig safety (not to mention drilling rig safety of all types).

How do we ensure we’re focused on the job? We take care of ourselves when we’re not on the job. Particularly when it comes to offshore drilling, an occupation that requires long shifts and intensive work, a healthy work life balance based on quality time with family and loved ones will go a long way toward refreshed, inspired work.

2. Patience

We’re obviously big fans of the front lines in the drilling industry. But the ambition that made a career working on an offshore drilling rig possible is also the attitude that can lead to mistakes.

Accidents don’t always have to make international headlines either. It might be quicker to pick up something heavy in order to move it – equipment, an attachment, you get the idea – but these impatient practices can lead to chronic injuries to the back, shoulders, knees, hips – the list goes on.

3. Behavioural Diligence

Diamond Offshore Drilling works with a program called the Diligent Observation Decisive Intervention process (DODI), an implement “built on the principle that targeting undesired behaviors for correction and encouraging desired behaviors will help us protect our most valuable assets: our people, our environment, and our equipment.”

Programs and safety measures such as DODI put the responsibility for safety not only in the hands of individual workers, but on the colleagues and teammates of those workers. Most of us consider ourselves invincible – it’s why we get careless and end up getting hurt.

It’s easy to miss a potential accident happening to you, but it’s tough to miss to see a potential accident happening to someone else.

4. Handsfree Operation

Hand injuries account for half of all injuries that occur on offshore drilling rigs. Safety is a priority on the water, and it starts with hand safety. This is why we designed our Scorpion Pipe Handler to operate completely handsfree. It’s human nature to get the job done quickly and easily, and when that blue collar mentality mixes with years of hands-on experience, it’s easy to see accidents happening as operators reach in to machines to make adjustments.

We’re not going to eliminate accidents entirely until we remove human beings from the front lines of offshore drilling rigs. However, we can implement new methods and technologies to prohibit the conditions necessary for accidents.

We all want to go home safely each night, but if we have to spend multiple nights on the water working for the offshore drilling sector, then we’d better be doing everything in our power to keep that job safe.

On Brexit & the True Cost of Safety Advancements in the Oil & Gas Industry

A lot of drilling, forestry, and construction companies all over the world are wondering how Britain’s Brexit vote will affect the way business unfolds in the oil and gas industry. While it’s true Brexit represents significant threats to the energy sector and financial markets all over the world, the true measure of the damage will take time to sort out.

At Viking we’re big believers in worrying about what you can control. Unless you were an active voter in the Brexit referendum, chances are you have little control over the European Union other than an ability to contribute to the economy in some form.

That’s why it’s more important than ever to be mindful of your company’s procedures, mission statement, and approach to business on a global scale.

There might be fluctuation here in North America, but that experience likely pales in comparison to the situation being faced in the UK. People working in the energy sector on the other side of the pond are in the midst of a brand new type of upheaval – hopefully North America can offer support.

How Brexit Relates to Job Safety

The implications of the Brexit vote got us thinking – we’re not politicians, and far be it from us to comment on the right course of action for an entire continent.

But we are excellent observers, and while we can control our own companies and how we do business, Brexit proves that even the best of intentions can have negative side effects.

The drilling industry has never been safer, but it’s not like people working in the oil and gas industry before the turn of the century were actively looking for ways to hurt themselves on the job site. It’s like my Dad says all the time, “Corporations all want you to go home safe these days. Do they think I didn’t want to go home safe 45 years ago when I was working by myself with my welding truck?”

Advancements in safety measures have created a new niche for OEM’s (like us) to offer something valuable to the market.

  • The chance to achieve greater than ever levels of productivity
  • The ability to attract intelligent new recruits
  • The opportunity to work with sophisticated technology

It all sounds like a win-win, no-brainer development, right?

Well, as with the Brexit vote, be careful what you wish for.

Drilling Deeper into a New World

With the developments in safety features over the years, the reality is that for something shiny and new to work, normally that means something else in the industry must be pushed aside to make room.

In a lot of cases, that something else is people.

We’ve all spent time on a project with that guy – the person who takes safety for granted, who’s stuck in the past, and who operates as though he or she is invincible. We’ve all also seen the dangerous consequences of those attitudes.

It’s simple: eliminate those attitudes, eliminate danger in the workplace, right? Well, again, just like Brexit, the expulsion of those attitudes requires the expulsion of people. Easier said than done. Men and women working in the industry developed unique habits and became entrenched in their traditions for a reason. No matter where you’re at in your career, your methods are going to be outdated at some point, too.

Working in a safer environment is good for everyone, right? Well, not so for people who are laid off, released, fired, let go – whatever you want to call it – because they’re failed to adapt with the times.

Safety requires patience. The oil and gas industry hasn’t always been synonymous with patience. Dated values need to find a way to progress with the advancements of tomorrow, but perhaps those leading the charge into a brighter, safer future ought to be aware of the potential damage that future is bringing with it.

It’s easy to rid ourselves of outdated methods, but voting someone off the island because they’re entrenched in their ways could end up being a huge loss.

Besides, we’d surely live to regret it if we made a rash decision.