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Well control training integrates psychological impacts for first time

13th September 2015

A new level of well control training that for the first time combines simulated advanced technical and behavioural content has been successfully piloted by Seadrill and will now be rolled out globally.

Simulator training underway during the pilot scheme at Maersk Training’s centre in Denmark
Simulator training underway during the pilot scheme at Maersk Training’s centre in Denmark

The enhanced training was developed by Maersk Training under the guidance of the International Well Control Forum (IWCF) and facilitated at Maersk Training’s centre in Denmark. Seadrill will carry out two further courses this year before initiating the roll out to its 9,000 strong workforce.

The intensive seven day course involves up to 12 people role playing real-life scenarios using a fully immersive simulated drilling rig while observed by a psychologist as well as an IWCF assessor. Participants are assessed on their behaviour and interactions as well as their technical knowledge as they are put through their paces in a series of demanding modules, tailored to specific equipment and challenges.

The new standard has been welcomed by the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP), which called for a sharper focus on human factors following the 2010 Macondo incident in the Gulf of Mexico. It is now hoped that other operators and contractors who have expressed interest in the new IWCF standards will follow suit by implementing their own internal requirements.

David Gouldin, Drilling and Well Control Manager at Seadrill said: “Seadrill invested heavily last year, both financially and with time, and set a higher well control pass mark of 80% and 90% for repeats. There was resistance, but we wanted to push people to improve and deliver higher levels of competency.

“To take this further, we started discussions with IWCF and Maersk Training about a tailored training course that would combine the highest level of technical simulation combined with Crew Resource Management. These techniques are used extensively by the aerospace and medical industries, but have still not been widely adopted by oil and gas, despite the known pressures and consequences of dealing with a well blow out. Combining behavioural training with bespoke technical content makes this a learning experience unlike standard well control training. It’s tough and demanding, but it will without a doubt drive up competency.”

IWCF sets international well control standards and the modules have been developed in line with latest international criteria tailored to suit specific challenges eg HPHT, horizontal drilling or deepwater operations.

David Conroy, Chief Technical Officer at IWCF, who participated in the pilot said: “There is an industry assumption that the majority of well kicks happen during drilling, but around 70% occur during other well operations e.g. tripping and cementing, so it is crucial that training reflects the reality of well operations. The Seadrill training will challenge any candidate and that is what we want to deliver; a step change in well control competency which is required by IOGP, particularly as operations venture into ever more challenging frontiers.”

IOGP is urging the industry to sign up to its well control database, so that there can be greater sharing and learning of information on incidents.

Huw Roberts, UK drilling manager at E.ON E&P UK and a member of IOGP’s Wells Committee said: “Several members welcome this new combined standard of training which answers the IOGP 476 recommendations. It is a leap forward in well control training and we would like to see more of the industry taking this approach, which importantly combines the interactions between people as well as their technical competency in the assessment and certification process. There is also still a void of information on incidents. It’s difficult to fix a problem if you don’t know the scale of it, so we are also encouraging industry to use IOGP’s global well incident database so that we can more effectively learn from real life situations where the well has been compromised.”

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