Editorial: IADC well suited to lead in competence assurance

Posted on 30 January 2013

David Williams, Noble Corp chairman, president and CEO

David Williams, Noble Corp chairman, president and CEO

As anyone who has ever been on an offshore rig can attest, the best and most important safety feature on any rig is a well-trained, experienced and professional crew. In recent years, our industry has invested heavily in modern drilling and marine technologies, designed to deliver improved performance, safety and reliability. We rely on this equipment to be “fit for purpose” in part because it is certified to conform to industry standards. However, the most expensive equipment is non-performing and hazardous junk if the crews designated to operate it lack the training and understanding to efficiently run it! We need to have a mechanism for ensuring that the training and competency of the teams aboard our rigs meets the high standard required for such circumstances. The behaviors and actions of our crew members are central to operating in the safest manner possible.

Expecting critical decisions to be made well on the rig depends on continuously training to the highest standards.  Drilling contractors are not alone in the need for top-tier training, and examples abound from the airline industry, electric utilities and countless other professions. Across this spectrum of occupations, the question is the same:  How can we be assured our team members have the skills needed to do their jobs well? The answer in our case is through IADC’s comprehensive competency assurance program.

IADC’s system for accrediting competence assurance programs includes process and procedure reviews combined with site visits to confirm that the company’s program meets accepted practices to develop and evaluate its personnel across a wide array of the company’s job functions and product lines. These reviews and site visits take an in-depth look at a company’s methods for measuring an employee’s performance, the process for defining competencies, training resources and support, documentation and quality assurance.

An excellent example of IADC’s current activities in this area occurred in 2012 when Baker Hughes became the first integrated oilfield service company to receive full IADC accreditation of its competence management program. Like many individual company-sponsored training and development programs, the goal of Baker Hughes program is to drive the skills and knowledge of personnel in critical roles and to improve workplace reliability. Moreover, IADC-certified programs help employees reliably meet and exceed current and upcoming client requirements and government regulations.

As of January, there are 10 IADC-accredited competence assurance programs, two programs in the final site visit process and five pending applications. Companies with accredited programs include Noble, Ensco, Rowan, Nabors, Saudi Aramco, Tesco and XTreme Coil Drilling Corp, and this list is expected to grow rapidly in the coming years.

Recently, IADC launched a major industry initiative to develop enhanced competency guidelines for rig personnel. Building on IADC’s existing Knowledge, Skills and Abilities (KSA) templates, virtually all rig positions will be covered, with priority focus on safety-critical positions with well control implications.

The main objective is to provide the tools for confirming globally accepted proficiency levels of the current drilling workforce, developing competence guidelines for new entrants and helping to ensure industry-accepted levels of competency exist when recruiting. In industry parlance, competency is the ability of an individual to perform a job properly, combining knowledge, skills and behavior, as developed through training and experience.

As IADC’s incoming chairman, I wholeheartedly support this initiative and firmly believe IADC must remain the global leader in guiding the development of competency and training programs for the drilling industry. Expansion of IADC’s KSAs is a natural evolution of the organization’s pioneering work in this area through WellCAP and RigPass. It also demonstrates drilling contractors’ long-standing commitment to work together to improve performance.

The revamped KSAs will provide the industry with a benchmark for globally consistent drilling position requirements, as well as a recommended means for effectively evaluating personnel. At the same time, it will help individuals identify areas where further training and development is needed and point to resources to help close those gaps.

In addition to generic rig positions, the new project will cover enhanced KSAs for highly specialized occupations, such as subsea engineers. By defining key competencies, the KSAs can also form the building blocks of future IADC accreditation and certification programs. IADC is renowned as an accreditor for drilling-industry training programs conducted by oil companies, drilling contractors, oilfield service firms and independent training institutions.

I encourage the entire drilling community, both onshore and offshore, to support the KSA initiative. Through IADC, we can be assured that the program will be truly responsive to the needs of the industry and make meaningful improvements in our performance.

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