2009Global and Regional MarketsSeptember/October

IADC enhances accreditation, operations initiatives to support Middle East HSE, training, drilling

By Ken Fischer, IADC regional vice president – Middle East and Africa

For more than a decade, IADC has maintained a strong presence in the Middle East. Not satisfied with past successes, however, the association and its members continue to find new and varied ways to enhance and improve the drilling industry’s role in the world’s most prolific oil and gas region.

Much of the organization’s success can be attributed to the active role played by industry stakeholders. The region’s national oil companies – all IADC members – have led the way with strong support for a broad range of IADC activities and programs. The service sector, and of course the drilling contractors, have played their parts, much like the three legs of a stool providing strength and stability to the whole.

Safety has long been the most important priority for companies in the region and, therefore, has been the focal point for many IADC activities and programs. This emphasis has resulted in demonstrable improvements in performance, both onshore and offshore. According to the 2008 IADC Incident Statistics Program (ISP), the Middle East onshore region reported the lowest lost-time incident rate and the lowest recordable incident rate of any onshore region, and the Middle East offshore region had the lowest recordable rate offshore.

Local safety groups, from Petroleum Development Oman’s Leaders in Safety Forum to Saudi Aramco’s Drilling Safety Leadership Initiative, have been effective venues for sharing best practices and learning from incidents. Although these initiatives have proven successful, there has been no regionwide forum for disseminating information. IADC will step into this role later this year with the first IADC Middle East HSE Roundtable, scheduled to take place in Doha, Qatar, in October, hosted by Qatargas Operating Company Ltd.


 United Precision Drilling’s Rig 24, contracted by Kuwait Oil Company, works on delineation well SA-198 in the Sabriyah field in North Kuwait. IADC’s accreditation programs are widely utilized in the Middle East to improve HSE performance. The latest industry statistics from 2008 show that Middle East land contractors had the lowest lost-time injury and recordables rates of all reporting regions. For details, click here.

Part of the region’s HSE success is attributable to the widespread use of IADC’s training accreditation programs. Rig Pass, the accreditation program for HSE orientation, is utilized throughout the region to ensure that new employees receive the basics of rig-site safety. Likewise, WellCAP has become the region’s preeminent standard for well control training.

IADC’s newest accreditation programs also are contributing to the advancement of training and improved HSE performance. The Drilling Industry Training (DIT) accreditation system, designed to apply IADC’s accreditation infrastructure to all types of drilling training, is widely utilized. Nine of the first 21 training providers who have been recognized under DIT are in the Middle East. Similarly, two Middle Eastern companies have applied for accreditation under IADC’s Competence Assurance Accreditation (CAA) Program.

One of the first to recognize the importance of these accreditation programs was Saudi Aramco. The company applies all of IADC’s accreditation programs within its drilling and workover operations. All company drilling personnel receive Rig Pass-accredited orientation before working at field locations. Their own well control training center is WellCAP-accredited, and they have utilized WellCAP Plus for their most senior supervisors. Fifteen of the company’s drilling-related courses are recognized under the DIT accreditation system, and their competence development program is being reviewed under CAA. Clearly, these programs provide value to Aramco as they seek to develop highly qualified drilling professionals.

For many years, IADC has had two active chapters in the Middle East region – the Northern Arabian Gulf Chapter and the Southern Arabian Peninsula Chapter. These groups have served as focal points for member interests and have provided a venue for activities ranging from “lunch and learn” programs to the region’s largest corporate-sponsored golf tournament.

 Kuwait Drilling Company’s Rig 30 is contracted to Kuwait Oil Company.

Recently, the Middle East Operations Forum was formed to provide a region-wide venue for drilling contractors to meet and discuss technical issues and to stay abreast of IADC’s global activities and initiatives. Meeting every six months, the forum features reports on topics of relevance in the region and includes guest presentations on topics of mutual interest. The next Middle East Operations Forum meeting will be held in Bahrain on 25 October, hosted by Rowan Drilling.

IADC holds a variety of conference events designed for the drilling community. In even-numbered years, the association joins forces with SPE to present the SPE/IADC Middle East Drilling Technology Conference, recognized as the foremost drilling technology exchange in the region. This year’s event is scheduled for 26-28 October.

IADC also organizes annual events focusing on specific topics such as HSE and well control. The last IADC Drilling HSE Middle East Conference & Exhibition, held 21-22 April 2009 in Abu Dhabi, was a huge success. The next IADC Well Control Middle East Conference will be held in Bahrain on 29-30 November 2010.

These IADC events strive to bring our members relevant technical topics and return value by keeping conference registration fees low compared with commercially organized events.

Ken Fischer is IADC’s regional vice president – Middle East and Africa based in Dubai. He can be reached by e-mail at ken.fischer@iadc.orgThis e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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