Drilling Ahead: Taking competency, well control to new levels

Posted on 10 September 2013

By Mike Killalea, editor & publisher

It’s baaa-aack! Well control, that is. IADC began organizing well control conferences in 1990, and DC has for decades dedicated significant coverage to the topic. Over time, though, attendance at our series of well control events across Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, Brazil and the Middle East slowly dwindled.

Why? Well, we thought we had it mostly figured out.

But attendance is resurgent in light of recent history. Preregistration for our 2013 IADC Well Control Conference of the Americas in Galveston, Texas, during August soared. There were few no-shows: unclaimed conference name badges were scarce as hen’s teeth.

Once pigeonholed as a driller’s headache, industry has recognized that well control is integrally woven into the well life cycle.

Dr Brenda Kelly, IADC senior director-program development, pointed to a fundamental shift in philosophy: “Well control begins with well planning and well construction and ends with P&A (plug and abandonment).” Dr Kelly spoke at the 2013 IADC Well Control Conference of the Americas.

Hanging together

More than ever before, in the post-Macondo/Montara world, it’s clear as glass to every thinking E&P professional that we, in the words of Ben Franklin, must hang together or we will surely hang separately.

Let’s hang together: IADC is forging a new era of well control stewardship. On 19 August, we announced formation of the Well Control Institute (WCI), a one-standard solution to the well control challenge of our industry. This new body will strive to catalyze improved performance in well control, with a single governance and single administration. (See article on Page 18.)

“The Well Control Institute is a cross-industry initiative to deliver a step-change in operational integrity and well control incident prevention,” said IADC president and CEO Stephen Colville, announcing the program on 19 August.

“The WCI will change the way we think about well control competency,” said IADC chairman David W. Williams, opening the Galveston conference. “IADC is uniquely qualified to step up to the challenges to provide the single standard the industry needs to ensure safety standards are met and exceeded.” Mr Williams is chairman, president and CEO of Noble Corporation.

“The Well Control Institute has the potential to change the industry, with IADC leading the charge.”

IADC technical committees will support the WCI, whose board will include operators, contractors, service companies and other industry stakeholders.

“The WCI board will provide the vision, strategy and oversight, and the WCI Advisory Panel will establish and maintain the standard and provide oversight,” Mr Williams added.

If you wish to help set the industry’s course in well control, this is your chance. Contact IADC’s Mark Denkowski (mark
.denkowski@iadc.org, or scan the QR code below).

If you hire them, you must inspire them

Well control is safety critical and competency should be mandatory. But it’s not the only area where we have competency and people issues. Drilling contractors, especially offshore, are investing billions of dollars for new rigs. Noble, for one, is investing on the order of $10 billion, Mr Williams said. To staff those rigs, Noble has recruited about 1,000 people per year in each of the last three years.

Too much is never enough

But is it enough? Again, an IADC initiative is riding to the rescue. The IADC Workforce Attraction and Development Initiative (WADI) aims to attract more people to the industry with purpose-built training to develop the workforce our industry hungers for. We kicked off WADI with a meeting of 18 enthusiastic community colleges from around the country. (See Page 20.)

“Offshore and onshore demand is unbelievable – off the charts,” remarked Mr Denkowski, IADC vice president-accreditation and credentialing.

WADI is designed to reach out to high-school and college students, and veterans, among others; provide continuous improvement opportunities for those currently in the drilling workforce; and standardize globally accepted pathways for career development.

“Thousands of people must come into the industry annually to keep the rigs running,” remarked IADC vice chairman Jay Minmier, president of Nomac Drilling.

Outreach to educational institutions outside the US looms large in the WADI plan. It’s not just about North America.

CNN is watching

We are launching these initiatives because it’s the right thing to do. And the world is watching.

“We’re only as good as our last CNN event,” Mr Minmier said. “This industry continues to live down Macondo.”

Mike Killalea can be reached via email at mike.killalea@iadc.org.

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