Taking well control training to new levels

Steve Redgrave

January 1, 2015

In October 2012 the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) published Report 476 entitled “Recommendations for enhancements to well control training, examination and certification.”

This report was produced as a result of the Macondo and Montara well control incidents, and in recognition of the need to develop well control competency. The recommendations of the report are now being implemented worldwide through the International Well Control Forum (IWCF) and the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC). The report identified a number of limitations within the existing training structures, and included within the findings were recommendations that:

The need for additional content has been met, as both the IWCF and IADC have either implemented or are in the process of implementing a revised syllabus for each of the certified well control courses.

Five training levels

Currently being implemented, in line with the above recommendations, is the introduction of five levels of well control training, for drilling and well intervention, from Level 1 through to Level 5. The intention is to make each level more role-specific and encourage a broader range of job roles to undertake well control training.

The future of well control training

At the time of writing this article, details of the syllabus for the Level 5 course have not been released to the industry (expected to be introduced some time in 2015). IWCF, IADC and well control training companies have been working to implement the recommendations from OGP 476 since its publication. Aberdeen Drilling School, for example, now offers Level 1-4 training courses across both rotary drilling and well intervention disciplines.

Human factors are key to the future success of well control and operational training. Although currently in the early stages of development, training that recognizes and addresses the role of human factors has the potential to create a fundamental change in the industry’s attitude towards all well operations.

The human factors aspect of well control has been highlighted in OGP 476 and a further OGP report (OGP 460: Cognitive issues associated with process safety and environmental incidents) that highlights the importance of the appropriate individual and group behaviors and actions in preventing all incidents including, but not limited to, well control incidents. Among these are: situational awareness (being aware of emerging events through the observation of weak signals and being able to predict the consequences); and cognitive bias (the consequence of intuitive short cuts in thinking and decision making).

The changes recommended by OGP 476 are being implemented on a global scale. The well control training industry is in the midst of a positive transition period that I’m sure will benefit the industry and its most important resource: the people working in it.

Steve Redgrave is director of Aberdeen Drilling School and IWCF board member. Redgrave has over 40 years’ international experience in the oil and gas drilling industry, working for major, and independent oil companies. Redgrave has also published and presented SPE papers on improving drilling performance and been involved in publishing The Technical and Legal Guide to UK Oil and Gas Industry. He is now a leading advocate of the new OGP-recommended improvements to Well Control training, and currently plays a key role on the IWCF Rotary Drilling Taskforce.