By Joanne Liou, associate editor
Since 2008, more than 400 people – from operators, drilling contractors, service companies and regulators – have completed Chevron’s dual-gradient drilling (DGD) training. Chevron is drilling some of the deepest, most complex wells in the Gulf of Mexico deepwater using DGD, and the operator approaches training as a risk-mitigating activity, Chevron’s Dale Straub, Senior Drilling Advisor, said at the 2014 SPE/IADC Managed Pressure Drilling and Underbalanced Operations Conference in Madrid on 8 April. “We look at every technology we use from a context of risk reduction. When we move operations to deepwater, the risks are inherently higher.”
When Chevron began the training program in 2008, the operator leveraged the work of a joint-industry project (JIP) that occurred more than 15 years ago. “This JIP had a lot of drilling processes, well control processes … It already had a working simulator developed by sharp people at Texas A&M (University) that we were able to use,” Mr Straub explained. The materials from the JIP were put through HAZOPS and “used to develop a training program that ultimately resulted in being able to go on a well today and, hopefully, successfully execute that well.”
Chevron developed an eight-day DGD fundamentals course and a five-day DGD well control course; both are accredited under IADC’s Drilling Industry Training Accreditation Systems. Further, “we have courses for our drilling engineers specifically on how to design dual-gradient wells,” Mr Straub stated. “The training scope is broad. We’re acutely aware that we’re at the sharp edge of a new technology, so we had to train everyone from the person on the rig to drilling manager to every service hand that is going to be involved in operations.”
Mr Straub noted that a significant training challenge is meeting the needs of a varied demographic – from people with PhDs to people without college degrees, from ages 22 to 60. Before 1990, he said, “80% of all people had this learning style of visual auditory –typically learning from PowerPoint presentations. They like to be told things. Most of our trainers today are in that demographic, and that’s how they like to teach.” However, 70-80% of people today are visual-spatial learners. “They like to see things, experience it for themselves. There’s a disconnect between the people who are typically building training programs and the people that actually have to learn.”
Chevron has implemented training that includes different modalities for different types of people and learning styles – face-to-face discussions, PowerPoint presentations, physical models, animations, simulators and participation in the Factory-Acceptance-Testing (FAT) of the equipment. Catering to visual-spatial learners, “we built a lot of animation to demonstrate how (DGD) will look. We have an enhanced version of the simulator that we inherited from the JIP. … We actually look for opportunities to make sure people are physically able to touch the equipment,” Mr Straub said.
Exposure to data is another modality for training. “Most drillships produce thousands of tags of data, but ordinarily for drilling purposes, we transmit maybe 200 of them to show basic drilling parameters,” he said. Chevron has developed a data system that collects and transmits more than 9,000 tags of data from DGD systems and contractors, making more than 30 DGD control screens available in near real time to as many people as possible within Chevron’s online network.
Understanding the demographics of who is being taught is key to the DGD training program, Mr Straub said. “We have a wide array of learners that you’re going to have to address. Many of them are not going to learn very much from a simple PowerPoint presentation.”