Perspectives: Brian Maness, Diamond Offshore – Helping rig crews do their jobs right

Posted on 08 September 2011

By Linda Hsieh, managing editor

Brian Maness, Diamond Offshore assistant manager of training, shows off the company’s new $1.5 million stability simulator, housed at its Houston headquarters and training classroom. The company has also purchased 16 well control simulators over the past five years and opened a well control training center in Macae.

Brian Maness, Diamond Offshore assistant manager of training, shows off the company’s new $1.5 million stability simulator, housed at its Houston headquarters and training classroom. The company has also purchased 16 well control simulators over the past five years and opened a well control training center in Macae.

Maybe it’s because he got his start in the drilling business roughnecking in the field, or maybe it’s because the bulk of his 30-plus year career has been built around teaching people how to do their jobs right – whatever the reason, Brian Maness, assistant manager of training for Diamond Offshore, has a passion for training running in his blood.

Talking to Mr Maness, it doesn’t take long for that passion to manifest itself – whether he’s explaining how an electronic tracking system keeps people from falling through the cracks in Diamond’s employee competency system, or showing off the company’s new $1.5 million stability simulator, or discussing the new WellCAP requirements he pushed for as chairman of the IADC Well Control Committee over the past two years.

Training has always intrigued him. It’s why after spending a couple of years each as roustabout, floorhand and derrickhand on ODECO rigs in the Gulf of Mexico in the late ’70s and early ’80s, he made the jump to crane operator and spent more than a decade in that position. “The fun part was being in charge of all the new hands and making sure they got trained,” Mr Maness recalled.

In the mid-’90s he moved into training full time when Diamond Offshore, which by then had acquired ODECO, kicked off a roustabout school on the Mr Charlie in Morgan City. Ironically, it was Diamond that previously had donated the rig to Morgan City, but Diamond still had chosen to lease the rig back to use it to run the training program, Mr Maness said. “It was in pretty bad shape, but we got it back up and running and started training 15 to 20 hands a week with a four roustabout staff,” he said.

By 2002, Mr Maness had been promoted to his current position of assistant manager of training, where he has developed and taught crane operator training, rigger training and well control training, assisted in developing the company’s competency program and the electronic competency tracking program, assisted in developing new methods to well control training, assisted in testing of new well control and crane simulators, and assisted in developing, installing and testing the stability simulator.

Currently, Mr Maness said, his biggest project is getting crews that are hired by Diamond trained for the three new ultra-deepwater drillships under construction at Hyundai Heavy Industries – which means approximately 500 to 600 new-hires. “The first drillship comes out in June 2013. That sounds like it’s a long ways away, but it’s nothing. Some of the personnel on a drillship will have to do about three solid months of classes just so they can walk onboard and operate the equipment,” he said.

Although it seems as if this daunting personnel task would be made more difficult in the face of a large retirement wave – the Big Crew Change – Mr Maness said he’s not overly concerned and expects that Diamond will have all the crews hired and technical training done over the next year and a half. “We’re getting a lot of good people and bringing them up to speed in a hurry. Are we going to lose some experience? Absolutely. With technology changing so much, I’m confident the younger generation will step up and make a seamless transfer of knowledge and skills.”

What will matter more and more over the coming years as the overall experience level of the industry trends lower is the role of training programs and trainers. As chairman of the IADC Well Control Committee, Mr Maness has worked to strengthen WellCAP program requirements and instructor qualifications and believes a stricter program will help the industry to enhance its quality of well control training for the students.

“Brian has the passion and the heart for doing it right and for helping the individuals that go through well control training to excel in their roles. He’s a very hands-on person and he’s focused on making the programs more learner-centered,” said Dr Brenda Kelly, director of IADC’s accreditation and certification programs. “He’s also been proactive about getting broader industry involvement so that we’re bringing in not just the views of drilling but also well servicing, coiled tubing and wirelines.”

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