Timely event also will give industry a forum for discussing ways to maintain safety performance when market recovers and activity picks up
By Kelli Ainsworth, Editorial Coordinator
The 2017 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition will be taking place amid growing optimism for a market recovery, particularly for the North American onshore segment, after two very difficult years for this industry. The event, to be held 14-16 March in The Hague, Netherlands, will signify a timely opportunity for companies to share their learning and experiences, said Conference Chair Leigh-Ann Russell, who also serves as Vice President in BP’s Global Wells Organization.
“I expect to hear people talk about how to maintain the safety record we’ve built in recent years,” she said. “The conference is a wonderful vehicle for bringing us all together to talk about lessons we’ve learned.”
This year’s 18 technical sessions will touch on topics such as data analytics, rig technology, automation, and advancements in completions and interventions technology.
“It can be a challenge for some companies to support conference attendance in this environment, so the papers had to be really strong for them to support submission. I think that’s benefitted our conference this year. We were initially concerned at the launch of the technical paper solicitation that the industry downturn would have a negative impact on the quantity of abstracts. However, the number and quality of abstracts has held up very well. We were able to select competitively highly ranked abstracts for inclusion in the program.”
The conference advisory committee also invited representatives from other industries to attend the Drilling Conference and share their lessons learned. For example, this year’s plenary session will feature Mike Phillips, Commercial Director of McLaren Applied Technologies. The company provides monitoring software that uses real-time data both to inform decisions and to make predictions, enabling Formula One drivers to avoid incidents.
“When we’re drilling a well, most rigs are constantly streaming data, and we can make decisions based on that data,” Ms Russell said. “But what they have in McLaren cars actually tells the drivers what to do in advance of incidents happening.” Such technology could prove tremendously valuable if adopted into the oil and gas industry, she added.
The aerospace industry has also been invited to speak at the SPE Drilling Systems Automation and Technical Section/IADC symposium, to be held on 13 March. Gianfranco Visentin of the European Space Agency will discuss cutting-edge technologies in space robotics.
On 15 March, young professionals will once again get a dedicated session. It has become more critical than ever that the industry provide learning opportunities for millennial employees, as they will be the ones who steer the industry’s future growth and success. In urging industry management to support young professionals in attending the Drilling Conference, Ms Russell said: “The Drilling Conference is going to give our young professionals the ability to connect with more seasoned professionals on the latest developments that are taking place in our industry. Hopefully we’ll also provoke their thoughts around the adoption of new technology, perhaps even from outside the industry, that can help make their companies more successful.”
The young professionals session will feature keynote speakers Colette Cohen, CEO of The Oil and Gas Technology Centre, and Anchala Klein, Vice President, Special Projects in BP’s Global Wells Organization.
Also on 15 March, there will be a new session focusing on closing the gender gap in the oil and gas industry. The development of this event was driven by a commitment made by oil and gas industry leaders at the 2016 World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, from 20-23 January 2016. During the annual meeting, 20 of the industry’s leading companies – including BP, Eni, Total and Shell – pledged to change the way they recruit and to promote women in the workplace in order to close the gender gap.
Industry leaders have increasingly recognized that simply hiring and promoting women is ineffective at closing the gender gap if the women don’t feel included and valued in their organizations. The session, therefore, will focus on how organizations can create agendas and policies that are truly equal and inclusive, Ms Russell said.
Hege Kverneland, Corporate Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at National Oilwell Varco, will speak at the session. It will be moderated by Oonagh Werngren, Chair of The Girls’ Network, an organization that pairs girls with mentors and professional female role models.
Ms Russell highlighted the importance of both men and women supporting the session. “It can’t be only women who work toward closing the gaps in our industry,” she said. “It has to be all of us. We all stand to benefit from it.” DC