Petrofac Houston training center focuses on emergency management

Posted on 29 November 2012

Petrofac instructors work with students in a simulated exercise in a major emergency simulation suite at the new Petrofac Houston Training Center.

By Joanne Liou, editorial coordinator

Petrofac’s Houston training center has relocated to a new 7,000-sq-ft facility in the Energy Corridor in west Houston, adding about 34% additional training capability. Driven by demand from operators and drilling contractors, the facility has the capacity to train approximately 1,000 people annually in major emergency management, in addition to other course offerings in health, safety and assessor training. Tony Littler, Petrofac’s regional director of the Americas, said companies are looking to emergency management courses to help their crews know what to do if and when things go wrong.

The facility has four classrooms, two simulators and approximately 20 instructors supporting the emergency response and crisis management training, enabling Petrofac to run multiple courses at one time in different simulated models. Courses are accredited by IADC and OPITO, while a number of courses are specifically developed based on clients’ needs.

Under the notion of “reality without risk,” the simulators create a life-like environment offshore and onshore, complete with noise, lights and explosions, Mr Littler said. “We bring delegates that have a role to play if you’re the offshore installation manager or if you’re a control room person or responsible for logistics,” he explained. “We bring individuals from the team, tell them, for example, we have a fire in the galley. We embed the delegates into the training room and create a very realistic environment in which the delegates quickly realize that they’re not in a classroom anymore. We want them to be making mistakes in the course, hence reality without the risk.”

The emergency management course, which was developed following the Piper Alpha incident, lasts between four to five days, and the facility will run two to three courses per week with a maximum of eight people in each course. Flexibility in the classrooms allows courses to be adapted to meet the needs of different clients. “It’s all about leadership and actually demonstrating that if something went wrong, you have the ability to manage that process, in which a client might say, ‘This is our process. This is what you want to do,’” Mr Littler said.

In addition to the new facility, Petrofac acquired Oilennium, an e-learning provider to the energy industry, earlier this month. Petrofac plans to further expand its offerings to training courses online. “It’s a significant acquisition because it’s that part of the jigsaw puzzle we’ve been missing,” Mr Littler noted.

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