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The Nabors International Oman Training Center (OTC) in Muscat, which began operating 12 years ago, originally trained rig mechanics and electricians...

Oman training center supports safety, operational goals

The Nabors International Oman Training Center (OTC) in Muscat, which began operating 12 years ago, originally trained rig mechanics and electricians.

“When I first arrived in 2007, the OTC was functioning from a training standpoint, but the environment was not as conducive as it could be to the learning process,” said Gary Castell, Nabors global training manager.

“The basics were in place – they just needed to be ramped up a bit. My experience in oil and gas industry training tells me that the delegate is better served in an overall comfortable environment. Senior management at Nabors International supported the evolution of the Oman facility into the jewel it is today.”

The Oman Training Center now has individual accommodations for up to 50 delegates and includes recreation and canteen areas to ensure comfort . New classrooms have been added, doubling the previous class space.

Training at the center is focused on three areas: QHSE-based courses (which all Nabors employees must attend), maintenance courses for rig electricians and mechanics, and drilling cyber chair training for employees who work on the company’s “Plug-n-Play” cyber rigs .

The OTC supports these functions with fully equipped multimedia classrooms that are designed to accommodate groups of 8 to 16 . Each room is well illuminated, including natural light, to make the theoretical learning sessions as effective as possible.

The workshops that support the electrical and mechanical training courses are located on each side of the fully functional top drive unit. These workshops are linked to the top drive, allowing realtime maintenance training activities in a controlled and safe environment.

In addition, the mechanical courses incorporate computer-based systems that integrate Caterpillar Engine Maintenance activities. Teaching rig mechanics to master these maintenance activities is integral to increasing the efficiency of rig operations.

The OTC also houses a Cyber Chair simulator system. Similar to flight simulators used to train pilots, this simulator allows the user to test various corrective actions in response to virtual drilling and well control situations. This has proven to be an incredibly effective training tool that ensures new-technology rigs are operated safely and efficiently.

Later this year, the OTC will receive a retiring drilling rig from the Nabors fleet that will be reconfigured for training purposes. Combining the rig with the directional well on site, the OTC will be able to offer a total drilling experience in a learning environment.

“When we first began to market the revitalized OTC to our field personnel, we encountered reluctance,” Mr Castell said. “However, that soon disappeared as recent delegates shared their positive learning experiences at the upgraded facility. They said the course work was excellent, that the time spent at the facility was comfortable and enjoyable, and that it had been a great learning opportunity. I know this helped make Nabors senior management feel that the changes to the curriculum and the inclusion of environmental considerations made the evolution of the center a good investment.”

To reinforce the Nabors mantra of getting it “Right from the Start,” a pool of mobile trainers was created to service the workforce at in-country locations around the globe , with focus on QHSE training. This program has been successful in strategic new start-ups such as Romania and Kazakhstan.

Training has generated positive feedback and enthusiasm . The 2009 plan includes making the specially designed Nabors International Safety Leadership Program available to senior personnel in their local offices. This should eliminate the need for travel, meaning less time away from work and lower costs.

Nabors requires that all rig managers, toolpushers, drillers and assistant drillers assigned to plug-n-play cyber rigs take specific training. The OTC alone could not accommodate the high demand for this specialized training , so a fleet of mobile cyber simulator units was created. The first unit was deployed in Irkutsk, Russia , then to Romania. There are now simulators located in Venezuela and Algeria, and their deployment has been crucial to operational success. The strategy behind the use of the mobile units is not just to deliver the needed training but also confirm competency. This ensures that all key rig personnel receive proper training to enable them to competently and safely operate Nabors’ new cyber chair drilling rigs.

Future Goals

Looking to plans for the future, Mr Castell said, “Our goal is to build on what we have achieved since 2007. Plans are under way to re-create the OTC in Venezuela to support our Latin America operations. We will use the lessons learned in Oman. We have created and are now delivering complete packages which include training the trainer, thus enabling the local management to establish their own self-sustaining training programs.

“These packages include competency metrics to ensure complete mastery of the skills supported by authenticity trails to ensure quality.”

The latter part of 2009 will be dedicated to designing and implementing leadership development programs for field management personnel and other technical modules for drillers, mechanics and electricians.

All training packages are audited to ensure quality. Mr Castell’s team maintains a relationship with IADC to ensure that their training concepts are reviewed by independent third parties. “At Nabors International we walk the talk. We offer opportunities and training to our employees to ensure they are competent, efficient and safe. We are proud of what we have accomplished in the last two years.”

Gary Castell joined Nabors International in May 2007. He previously headed up the training function for a service company in Aberdeen, where he developed training centers in Trinidad and Tobago. His goal at Nabors is to continue developing what he believes will be recognized as the most successful training and competence program in the drilling contractor sector. This goal is shared with a worldwide team who deliver competency based learning packages.

This article, by Mr Castell, is based on his presentation at the 2009 IADC Health, Safety, Environment & Training Conference & Exhibition, 3-4 February, Houston, Texas.


  1. Dear Mr Castell

    I am a qualified English language teacher in Oman for 19 years, and would like to know if OTC at Airport Height runs any operations apart from H&S which might require an in-house Technical English teacher/trainer in the near future.

    Thank you.
    Yours, Clive Winbow
    Mob: 95034511

  2. THINK MAD!!!!!
    THINK MAD!!!!!
    THINK MAD!!!!!





  3. I am mahmood zaid alsadi i am 27 years i am maeerg i heva one boy
    I am from muscat my dreem work in Rig now i work in desert in tawoos compni
    Plz my dreem work rig eny wher i need work
    This my numbr

  4. Hi sir,

    I am working in quality control piping filed and now I want to shift my job to rig side so plz suggest me which course is better.

    Thanks n regards

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