New Drillers Course provides required training in period of rapid promotions for drilling crews

Posted on 30 October 2009

Murchison Drilling Schools (MDS) recently introduced its new five-day Drillers Course, which aims to equip assistant drillers (AD) with the technical tools needed to become an effective driller, and to ensure that drillers have the technical knowledge necessary to be proficient in his current position and to excel as a toolpusher in the future. The class will be taught as an in-house course.

“We were looking at why employees on the contractors side weren’t coming to our (10-day Operations Course), whereas 10-15 years ago probably 50% of the class were from the contractors,” said Bill Murchison Jr, an instructor at MDS.

Sam Sirman, who joined MDS in February this year as a lead instructor and has 27 years of experience working for drilling contractors, pointed out that it’s simply too difficult for contractors – drillers and ADs – to get away for 10 days. Scheduling two weeks away from work is tough even under normal circumstances, but during these times of high rig activity and personnel shortage, a 10-day course often becomes unworkable. Therefore the five-day course was created.

According to Mr Murchison, MDS expects to hold its first Drillers Course in the coming months, likely in Singapore. They plan to have 12-15 students in each class, though they can fit in 20-25.

Underscoring the need for more driller/AD training is the fact that rapid promotions are becoming more common with drilling crews, he noted, with some employees going into drillers positions within a year.

It’s been reported that the average kick size in the Gulf of Mexico is 50 bbl, he said. “That’s extremely large. And who is responsible for catching those kicks? The driller.” Inexperienced crews can lead to serious problems on rigs, and rather than having micromanagement from corporate offices, it’s better to train employees well and put qualified people onto the rigs.

Topics covered in the Drillers Course include drill string design, stuck pipe, freeing techniques, hydraulics, shallow gas, tripping practices, well control red flags and transition zone indicators, mud solids, trends, casing and cementing, lost circulation and associated problems, abnormal pressure, shales, and gas cap drilling. Students who go through the course will have “a better understanding of the whole drilling process and will be able to handle problems much more effectively,” Mr Murchison said.

An optional sixth day can be added to the course to cover topics such as BOP equipment or pre-spud meetings.

Earlier this year MDS began offering its WellCAP-certified five-day Supervisory-Level Well Control Course. A new well control center also has been added to its training facility in Albuquerque, N.M.

Additionally, Mr Murchison noted that MDS is planning to offer new courses on deepwater drilling and dynamic positioning operations. The need is there for this kind of training, he said, especially with the newbuilds already starting to come out and those still under construction.

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