We have been involved with several drilling programs in the past, on some occasions contracted to the ultimate client, on others sub-contracted to the drilling contractor. These drilling programs have employed various contractual arrangements, some more successful than others.
The underlying problem is to satisfy the expectations of the donors whilst adequately compensating drilling contractors without excluding needy communities in risky areas from drilling programs. Many of the older programs, whilst guaranteeing payment for dry boreholes to the drilling contractor, failed to meet the expectations of the donors. Newer 'wet hole' contracts either exclude risky areas from drilling programs or place an unacceptable burden upon the drilling contractor who has no choice over which localities are to be drilled. The reaction from the drilling contractor is often to over-drill successful holes to compensate for money lost on dry holes -- this results in waste of scarce resources.
Having compared the various options, I should like to express my thoughts on how best to arrange drilling contracts in the future. A compromise should be reached whereby the drillers are paid for their work, realistic donor expectations can be met and a fair proportion of drilling programs are allocated to risky areas.