Ensuring competency: Are we teaching solutions or just answers?

Posted on 24 November 2009

wellcap“This guy has to pass or he can’t go back to the rig” is a blunt remark occasionally made to Glenn Potter, well control instructor with Equilibria Services, when clients enroll their employees in his well control courses. This indicates that the focus is on getting the well control certificate – no matter what.

Mr Potter, along with Lex Lim, petroleum engineer for PTTCO; Wade Davis, drilling superintendent for Chevron Thailand Exploration & Production; and Neil Forrest, training manager, Transocean Eastern, made up a panel moderated by Daniel Miessner, deepwater drilling adviser for Petronas Carigali, at the IADC Well Control Asia Pacific 2009 Conference & Exhibition, held 18-19 November in Bangkok, Thailand.

The session, titled “Ensuring Basic Competency in Well Control,” generated a discussion highlighting well control as a critical component of responsible and efficient drilling operations. Panelists shared ideas on their respective roles as operators, contractors and training providers in ensuring that all components for competency are in place, maintained and poised for improvement  – whether it is through quality training, monitoring performance, assessing retention of skills, setting a proper example, or following established procedures and standards.

As Mr Forrest remarked, “Competency should not be a time stamp as it is dynamic and should have a time dimension.” It’s necessary to take every step to foresee and resolve potential deficiencies in well control performance.

Conference delegates agreed with the panel that quality well control techniques, operations and training are essential to protect the environment, ensure worker safety and preserve equipment, especially with the industry’s wells becoming increasingly deeper and more complex.

Mr Potter commented, “Focusing on certification instead of understanding has and will continue to create a situation where personnel are taught the answer, not the solution. A well control certificate must mean that the person has an understanding of well control principles and responsibilities that are appropriate for their position. It does not matter what well control certificate someone has; what really matters is how they got that certificate.”

Mr Davis recounted the efforts Chevron has undertaken to audit equipment and processes in its Gulf of Thailand operations. He recalled, “In addition to equipment issues, we uncovered serious deficiencies in training, documentation and following company procedures.”

To remedy these findings, Mr Davis said, the path forward included clarifying training requirements, continuing audits to ensure compliance and providing training to contractor personnel.

Mr Lim’s presentation focused on the difference in philosophies between IADC’s WellCAP and training accreditation program and the IWCF examination process.

He also discussed IADC’s Competence Assurance Accreditation (CAA) Program. Questions he posed to conference delegates included: “How does one determine that an individual is competent and has the required skill and knowledge? After passing a well control examination, does it indicate that an individual has acquired the required level of competency for his or her assigned jobs?”

The IADC Well Control Asia Pacific 2009 Conference & Exhibition accentuated the latest in well control practice, including new technologies, regulations and standards, operational practices, human resources, training and competence development.

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