Airline-pilot style psychological training for oil well managers introduced by IWCF

 Simulator training underway during the pilot scheme
Simulator training underway during the pilot scheme

By DARA BUTTERFIELD

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.

The enhanced training was developed by Maersk Training under the guidance of the International Well Control Forum (IWCF) – which is based in Montrose – and facilitated at Maersk training 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.

David Gouldin, Drilling and Well Control Manager, Seadrill, said: “We 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.”

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 Conroy, Chief Technical Officer, 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.”

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