2015IADC, Regulation, and LegislationJuly/August

From the Chairman: Ensuring crew competency through WellSharp prepares industry for future growth in the next upturn

By Ed Jacob, 2015 IADC Chairman

Ed Jacob, 2015 IADC Chairman
Ed Jacob, 2015 IADC Chairman

We are surrounded with warning systems as we go through our everyday routines. From those that are small – an alarm to wake us up in the morning, the low battery warning on our computers, the engine warning light on our cars – to the large, like tornado, hurricane and severe storm warnings. In all cases, we have, or should have, the knowledge, skills and abilities to react to the warnings we receive.

It is a principle that applies on the job as well – and it has guided many of IADC’s latest initiatives, most recently the introduction of WellSharp a complete revamp of our well control training and assessment program.

Post-Macondo, the IADC Well Control Committee pulled together a dedicated group of industry experts who worked to redesign the IADC WellCAP program. The new training and assessment program that resulted from that process was introduced in April and is called WellSharp. The goal of any training program is to provide personnel the necessary skills and abilities to perform their job. WellSharp introduces to the industry a well control training and assessment program whose goal is to ensure that all of our drillers have the skills to detect a kick and handle it appropriately. And it places the responsibility for well control activities on all levels of personnel, from rig-based to office-based.

The new program is a complete rebuild and addresses many of the concerns expressed by regulators and the public regarding the fitness to operate of our crews.

Most significantly, the program includes five levels of training, with a curriculum that is focused on the safety-critical job responsibilities of rig personnel in specific positions. It ensures that our drillers attend the correct course for their current job level. It ensures that the instructor is certified and has the knowledge, skills and abilities to teach the curriculum effectively. It ensures that course participants complete a standardized test and that each test is witnessed by an independent third party to ensure the integrity of both the course and the test.

Skills development is given greater emphasis, with more simulation exercises to develop required skills. Also importantly, the program has a built-in mechanism to make sure that knowledge gaps are covered. Operating under the assumption that all information taught in the course is critical to job performance and safety, those who incorrectly answer test questions are provided real-time feedback and the correct answer. It’s a seemingly small change but represents a real step forward in ensuring our crew’s competence.

As an industry, we have made huge strides in the past decade to reduce our incidence rates. We should be proud of that. But, of the incidents that remain, it is estimated by human factors experts that 70% to 90% of them are related to human errors. Addressing this is the next great challenge for our industry. WellSharp is one of the many efforts initiated by IADC to address human factors by introducing rigorous training and measurement of knowledge. Alone, it will not solve all of the challenges. However, it does provide an important step forward.

As COO of Independence Contract Drilling, it is my responsibility to ensure the safety of all of our employees. Having access to the best training is one way we invest in the future of our company. During this market downturn, I urge all of my colleagues to follow suit, because training is a worthy investment in the future growth and success of your company.

IADC is raising the bar for well control knowledge, skills and abilities for everyone but specifically for our first-line warning system, our drillers. We, as an industry, must provide our drillers with every tool available to them in our toolbox. Early in my career, my mentor taught me that “the well is always talking to you, but are you smart enough to know what it is saying?” Providing our crews with the right foundation of education, skills, knowledge and abilities helps us ensure that our drillers are smart enough to know what that well is saying.

Click here to visit the IADC WellSharp website.

WellSharp is a trademark of IADC.

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