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:
- Additional technical content needs to be added to the well control training syllabus;
- Clearer guidelines need to be established as to what level of training is needed for each function/role in the operations team; and
- Additional well control training is required for specialist operations.
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.
- Level 1 (Awareness) is a short (3-4 hour) course designed for personnel who are “non-critical to well control operations but may have secondary involvement in well operations and reasonable capability to aid the avoidance or mitigation of a well control event.”
- Level 2 (Introductory) has been designed as a 3-4 day course for “all members of the wellsite operations team working in roles which may directly contribute to the creation, detection or control of a well influx.”
- Level 3 (Driller/Operator) has been redesigned to focus more on the specific requirements of those personnel responsible for shutting a well in.
- The Level 4 (Supervisor) course is intended for “wellsite supervisory and office-based personnel primarily involved with the well design and operational decision making process.” Further to the changes in syllabus and the emphasis on role-specific responsibilities, these courses are now progressive. IWCF candidates, if they do not already hold the necessary certificate, will have to begin at Level 2 and then progress to Level 3 if they are at driller level before moving onto Level 4 if they work at supervisor level.
- Level 5 (Engineer) has been recommended as an additional course for engineers and front line wells management personnel with a key role in well design. The course is intended to cover those aspects of well control that “need to be embedded into well design, well control equipment selection and rig selection.”
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.