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Industry convenes workshop on human performance in well control

Participants endorse ideas for creating human factors organization and comprehensive document to advance human performance efforts

By Steve Kropla, IADC VP Special Projects and Member Initiatives

The focus on “human performance,” which refers to what people do as part of their operational roles and responsibilities, continues to increase in the oil and gas industry. These human actions and behaviors are influenced by physical, psychological, social or organizational factors, so understanding those conditions is essential for managing human performance.

Chris Parker, Human Performance Lead Advisor with BP, established the framework for the 4 March workshop by discussing the principles of human performance, which is increasingly recognized as a recurrent contributing cause in well control incidents. Ensuring robust well control requires identifying and managing the underlying conditions that influence human performance.

Human performance is also a recurring contributing cause in well control incidents, whether through an error in detection, analysis or response. As the industry works to improve overall performance and safety, it’s critical that organizations identify and manage the conditions and systems that lie underneath human performance in order to learn and improve. Shifting the focus away from blaming individuals to focusing on system weaknesses will be essential to ensuring strong well control barriers.

To explore this challenge, IADC recently coordinated a workshop in collaboration with BP, Shell, Total and Baker Hughes, a GE company. The interactive, half-day event was held on 4 March in The Hague, The Netherlands, just before the 2019 SPE/IADC International Drilling Conference and was attended by approximately 50 human factors, well control and HSE professionals. The goal was to improve human performance in routine operations and well control by facilitating discussions and generating ideas that would help the industry to identify and adopt best practices.

In preparation for the workshop, participants completed an online human performance eLearning program, originally developed by BP and now hosted by the Energy Institute. Participants also reviewed “Getting to Zero and Beyond,” a paper by BHGE that outlines six principles proposed to improve human performance in the oil and gas industry:

1. Shift from zero as a goal to zero as an expectation.

2. Learn from industries that are mature in human factors.

3. Use leading indicators to focus on safeguarding and risk reduction.

4. Optimize collaboration across companies and crews.

5. Establish a no-risk-to-sharing culture.

6. Work hand-in-hand with regulators.

Presentations at the workshop covered a broad range of topics: human performance terminology; cross-company collaboration to integrate human performance principles and techniques; and multiple human performance applications and tools already available to the industry.

Left: Marcel Robichaux, Chevron G&M of Drilling and Completions, talked about the DrillPad tool for improving well control drills. Middle: Graham Hitchcock, Research Science Consultant with Aramco Overseas, discussed the development of a new surface drilling BOP activation technology. right: Reinforcing the right to stop unsafe operations was a focus in the talk by Ade Solarin, Maersk Drilling Operations Superintendent.

An interactive discussion session followed, where participants contributed and ranked ideas on how the industry can further advance the implementation of human performance efforts.

Almost half of the workshop attendees voted for the need to “provide a single, overall standard document which shall include definitions, awareness, training, requirements, tools for investigation, workload, design (plus other elements) with a view to reducing human error in industry and sufficient oversight.”

An idea to create and fund a human factors organization/entity using a model similar to the ongoing DROPS initiative was also highly endorsed.

Workshop organizers have continued to meet regularly since March to discuss plans for implementing an industrywide system to improve human performance. The group is now planning to develop a website, “Wells in Mind,” that would be patterned after the DROPS initiative. The goal would be to increase awareness of and access to knowledge of the factors influencing human performance, as well as serve as a clearinghouse for various tools and resources available to the industry. DC

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