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PMI India
Project Management
Conference 2010



Exposure draft period approaches for The Practice Standard for Estimating

Challenges were many, both engineering- and manpower-related. RIL employed project management throughout the stages to mitigate the difficulties.

The following were some of the challenges that RIL faced while developing the project:
  • No history of similar development project, hence absence of deepwater technology knowhow, vendors and contractors in India;
  • Remote area, zero infrastructure;
  • Limited offshore construction window of four months a year due to hostile oceanic conditions like strong winds, swells, currents, and cyclones;
  • Scorching heat conditions of up to 50 degrees C in summer and heavy rains in the monsoon season;
  • Scarcity of skilled labor and equipment; and
  • Limited number of vendors with deepwater construction experience.

Onshore terminala 3D snapshot)

Project management was essential to manage such a mega, complex project with several stakeholders, 200-odd vendors and suppliers all over the world. The communication and the interface were the two biggest challenges. As it was a deepwater development project, the company followed a ‘right first time’ policy, analogous to space missions. Therefore, quality management was the key to success. 

“The project involved a complex web of inter-dependent activities that made our targets that much tougher,” recalls Mr. P.M.S.Prasad, Executive Director, RIL. “Our project teams managed such stiff targets only because each one consistently followed our well-established project management processes. In fact, the team also had the overall responsibility of effectively monitoring and controlling the execution plan. It regularly carried out schedule analysis to point out potential bottlenecks to the senior management in advance,” he adds.  
The company approached the challenges in a highly methodical manner. The following were some of the actions taken:
  • Creation of dedicated infrastructure, such as construction jetty, haul road, widening of approach roads, drilling & well completion workshop, service base, helipad, pipe fabrication shop and workmen colony to deal with poor infrastructure;
  • Deployment of a large state-of-art installation spread with interchangeability among the vessels to counter the hostile oceanic conditions;
  • Adoption of a highly flexible contracting strategy to ensure steady flow of manpower;
  • Early booking of manufacturing capacity;
  • Conduct of day-to-day expediting with key critical contractors;
  • Multiple contracts with interface management and overall integration through the project team; and
  • Spreading out an execution team over 20 locations worldwide.

“Managing logistics was one of the biggest pain points. We had to manage a large offshore installation fleet of more than 80 vessels within a limited work area. We managed this with a real-time vessel tracking system for vessel movements and planning,” says Mr. V. Sridhar, Head of Planning, RIL. 

RIL set up two dedicated project teams—one for onshore and the other for offshore—to ensure smooth operations. The mandate of the project team was wide. Establishing a safety mechanism for personnel and equipment onsite was one of  its most important objectives. The team had to look after time management, risk management, interface management, and quality control and assurance, and put together an effective communication system.  

In terms of time management, the team developed and maintained an Integrated Project Master Schedule, with regular analysis of critical and near-critical paths. For risk management, there was a dedicated risk manager who identified risks, maintained/updated a risk register, and prepared a risk response plan. To ensure an effective communication system, the project team set up an e-room for exchanging documents. The dedicated interface manager, with the support of interface engineers, established a strong interface management system. Quality personnel were deployed at each location, and a multi-tiered quality inspection and quality audit process was put in place to adhere to stringent quality control and assurance.

Availability of people and equipment was one of the big challenges RIL faced. The project team was responsible for drafting and executing a flexible procurement and contracting strategy to suit the market conditions. It also conducted third-party assessment and validation.

The project involved statutory clearances at several stages. There was a separate logistics team to work on clearances from the Ministry of Home Affairs and Ministry of Defence.

“I think forward planning also helped us considerably. For instance, we took a pro-active approach in obtaining all necessary construction clearances and permits in advance. It was a tremendous help because the project did not have to suffer on account of extraneous issues,” says Mr.K.S.Rao, Project Manager Onshore.

Progress review was done very meticulously. The project team had a multi-tiered project review system, where the members shared and discussed progress on a daily, weekly, monthly and six-monthly basis with the project steering committees that involved the senior management. RIL set up a ‘war room’, initially in Mumbai and then at the onshore terminal. Project information was available at this location round the clock to the senior management for reviews and meetings. It also helped in conducting internal and external pre-start-up audits.

With various teams and vendors working in tandem, and sometimes sequentially, interface management was an important aspect. Interface management had the potential to directly impact the project schedule. The team prepared an interface register during the FEED stage and updated it during the subsequent stages of project execution. The interface manager took care of all interfaces among different contractors, and was primarily responsible for the management and maintenance of various interfaces. There was a dedicated interface engineer for each major site.

Communication was another crucial element in the success of this mammoth project. The teams needed to share information on real time for speedy progress. The project team set up an eRoom, which was a temporary space for vendors to park documents till they were moved to a permanent document database, called Infoworks. It helped gather people, tools, processes and content in one place. Through this web-based tool, project teams anywhere in the world could access data and collaborate on it.

Project management helped RIL align the teams, often working in different parts of the globe, to the overall objectives of the project. The end result was a project that fulfilled the organization’s goals, and put India on the map of engineering marvels.
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