By Joanne Liou, associate editor
When investigating well control incidents, the human factor is frequently cited as the root cause. “People do things they shouldn’t because they are either peer pressured or they’re trying to shortcut it,” Mark Denkowski, VP of IADC’s Accreditation and Credentialing Division, said. “It’s a behavioral attitude we need to change from the very first day people come into our industry.”
In a discussion revolving around competency, Dr Brenda Kelly, IADC senior director of program development; Troy “Korn” Kehoe, vice president of Check-6 Training Systems; and Ron Crotzer, managing director of Bladestone, shared thoughts on ensuring workers retain critical well control knowledge and skills. Mr Denkowksi moderated the session at the 2013 IADC Well Control Conference of the Americas last week in Gavleston, Texas.
Industry’s approach to well control is widening, increasingly making it part of the planning stage. “We’ve greatly
expanded our scope in how we view well control training and where it needs to apply,” Dr Kelly stated. Further, more emphasis is being placed on prevention instead of regaining control of the well after an incident has occurred.
This means focusing training on the learner, which is reflected in how training programs are being designed. The revised IADC WellCAP curriculum is an example. “Instead of listing topics that the trainer will deliver, we’re looking at learning objectives. What does the learner need to know, be able to demonstrate and be able to take away from the training?” Dr Kelly explained. Interactive learning is also becoming more prevalent. “If someone sees something, writes it on the board, they may remember 5%. If they read it, they may remember 10%,” she said. “If they have to demonstrate it and then they have to explain the process, the retention level increases as much as 85% just by engaging multiple senses.”
Training should also be adapted to the generation of “digital natives” entering the industry. Mr Kehoe said he see an opportunity in gaming technologies. “Every game you play has the ability to keep score. If we can keep score and target continuous improvement on the scores that we make, we disguise training as fun,” he said.
Further, training can be improved by tracking what students might not be understanding. “If we have 100 well control students come through and 99% of them are missing a certain problem, this type of administration allows us to go, ‘we have a problem in our training,’” Mr Kehoe noted.
Mr Crotzer said he believes that many older, basic safety tools have become paper exercises with limited value, while crews have lost sight of purpose and management assumed everyone knew how to use the tools. “That disconnect is one of the largest obstacles I see in this business. If we don’t communicate clearly to people in the field and train them clearly, then how can we realistically expect them to know what we want them to do?”
He continued to explain five basic principles that could help a well control management system to achieve several important goals: clearly describe how to set up and maintain the rig’s pressure control equipment, how to recognize the signs of a kick and, when a kick is suspected, how to react, communicate and safely shut in the well.
- Define standard operating procedures within boundaries of regulatory bodies, industry standards and operator’s best practices.
- Audit and potentially modify the rigs to comply with standards and procedures.
- Train everyone to recognize a potential kick.
- Train and test crews to safely shut-in a well.
- Perform competency maintenance periodically.
That last principle is critical because, unlike routine drilling operations, you might only see a well control event once or twice a year. Just as continuous practice is inherent to positional competency, the same must be applied to well control, he advised.