2021IADC, Regulation, and LegislationNovember/December

IADC presses ahead on ESG, training and information sharing

From Jason McFarland, IADC President

The past year has been an exciting one at IADC, and I am enthusiastic about the good work our members continue to put in. Although in-person industry events have not returned to full capacity, that has not stopped our members from collaborating. Whether it’s spotlighting safety accomplishments in Nigeria, advocating on behalf of MODU owners in Saudi Arabia or raising money for charity in the Rocky Mountains, IADC’s member-driven chapters have stayed proactive across the board. 

One example is IADC’s Texas A&M Student Chapter, which planned and executed its own HSE Summit in April. The students came together and virtually hosted academics, regulators and industry representatives to discuss safety in oil and gas operations. The world depends on information-sharing efforts like this. It’s one of the reasons why IADC was formed. I’m comforted to see the industry’s future leaders continuing the tradition of educating and informing by bringing people together.

Last year, IADC’s Executive Committee approved a proposal to establish a Sustainability Committee, bringing members together to tackle ESG initiatives for the drilling industry as a whole. Informed by the results of a sustainability survey conducted in 2020, this newly formed group of members got to work.

Operators, contractors and service providers have frequently come together to figure out how everyone can work collaboratively to grow and improve. This time is no different. The Sustainability Committee recognized an industry need for ESG guidance tailored to the specific needs of drilling contractors. The new guidance document that is under development will allow drilling contractors to reference existing frameworks while laying the foundation for more standardized reporting in the industry.

IADC President Jason McFarland welcomes attendees to the 2021 IADC World Drilling Conference on 15 June. The event had originally been scheduled to take place in Paris but was turned virtual due to continued travel restrictions around the world.

One of the main objectives is to ensure the industry has the ability to set baselines while maintaining flexibility. This type of collaboration represents the role IADC plays for its members operating all over the globe, in all kinds of environments.

Another space where IADC has prioritized the industry’s sustainability efforts has been our conferences. We now have conferences in the US, Asia Pacific and Europe dedicated to HSE and sustainability. At IADC’s other technical conference events, Program Committees have also allocated portions of the conference agenda to focus on past, current and planned efforts in ESG.

When it comes to training, IADC continues to grow its reach within the industry. Our continuous learning platform, KREW, was fully launched in the spring. It aims to narrow the gaps in crews’ well control knowledge. The KREW system was developed with the industry in mind, providing learning modules focused on critical concepts of well control.

We also launched the Subsea Competency Assessment (SCA) program this year. Its purpose is to assess and verify the knowledge and practical skills of subsea technicians. With 15 years being ISO-certified, IADC was well-equipped to develop quality benchmarks for accreditation to roll out the SCA program.

Another deliverable in 2021 was the re-launch of the WellSharp Live remote learning platform. Originally launched in the early days of the pandemic, WellSharp Live initially had a limited scope for its first 12 months in operation. After a real-world test, the WellSharp Advisory Panel then considered the results and made improvements. These improvements expanded access, enhanced exam proctoring and provided greater flexibility for trainees and training providers alike.

Presenting a united front

IADC’s advocacy efforts have also spanned the globe in 2021. In the US, the industry has presented a united front to the Biden Administration. Cooperation across regions and industry segments has meant reaching out to regulators, public officials and the general public to educate them on the value of this industry’s work and the potential negative impacts that could result if the industry’s effectiveness was reduced.

In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, an overhaul of commercial maritime law was set to negatively affect MODUs. Through IADC’s collective advocacy efforts with regional stakeholders, the challenges facing companies operating in Saudi waters were explained to government authorities, and a three-year exemption was granted. In the EU, our work with the International Regulators Forum (IRF) keeps us in continuous communication with the regulators of 11 countries. These relationships across three continents will be important as the IRF examines issues related to asset integrity, culture, standards and performance.

As 2021 comes to a close and we reflect on our performance this year, please read on in the following pages for details of how IADC has worked on behalf of the drilling industry. DC

By Angie Gunden, IADC Senior Director – Corporate Services and Marketing

Accreditation and Credentialing

IADC’s Accreditation and Credentialing (ACD) group works to elevate personnel safety in the industry through an array of accreditation programs and other initiatives. A truly competent workforce decreases nonproductive time and incidents while increasing operational safety and efficiency. This mindset is at the heart of ACD’s day-to-day efforts. 

The focus on distance learning continued in 2021. WellSharp Live – IADC’s remote learning platform for well control training – was initially introduced as a temporary option in May 2020. In early 2021, the decision was made to offer WellSharp Live permanently. With one-on-one exam proctoring, eye movement tracker, enhanced authentication processes and AI-guided web browser restrictions, WellSharp Live offers remote learning without sacrificing the high level of quality and integrity for which WellSharp is known. Since the program’s inception, approximately 820 courses have been delivered and nearly 3,700 individuals trained. 

This year also marked a milestone in the multi-year development of the Knowledge Retention & Education for Our Workforce (KREW) system. Designed to be used in conjunction with the WellSharp program, the program serves as a tool for closing knowledge and skills gaps. It is a continuous learning platform designed to help personnel retain critical concepts between well control recertification trainings. KREW was officially launched in March after thoughtful and collaborative development by industry experts representing operators, contractors and service companies. Effective since May, WellSharp Live certificates and test codes for Driller- and Supervisor-level courses automatically provide access to the KREW system. The launch of KREW is a progression toward a step-change in well control training in the industry – one that IADC will continue to lead.  

The ACD team continued collaboration with Basin United, comprised of major operators in the Permian Basin and other industry groups, on the completion and launch of the Basin United Fundamental Safety Orientation and Safety Leadership courses. The goal of the program is simple – to improve safety performance in the Permian Basin. A course combining RigPass with the Basin United certification was launched, allowing trainees to be issued both IADC RigPass and Basin United credentials through a one-day course. IADC also developed a Basin United facilitator course for instructors who will teach safety leadership. The course is also beneficial for instructors teaching the Fundamental Safety Orientation. It focuses on best practice facilitation techniques through the use of a content-experience-feedback model and equips instructors with skills and techniques for teaching adult learners, implementing experiential learning, and integrating interactive activities into training. This work is the result of a collaborative effort, based on the desire for one safety orientation standard to increase personnel safety. 

Also in 2021, IADC completed and launched the new Subsea Competency Assessment program. Designed collaboratively by a group of operators, drilling contractors and professional trainers, the program helps companies to assess and verify knowledge and skills for subsea technicians in the oil and gas industry. The goal of the program, which consists of two levels of certification, is to credential qualified personnel who have position-specific comprehension of concepts and have demonstrated effective skills at the job site. 

All of these initiatives, and others, were accomplished under ISO 9001:2015 certification. The only accrediting body in the drilling industry to hold the certification, IADC passed the recertification process for the 15th year in a row in 2021 after a rigorous two-day audit. The audit reviews procedures, processes and records, as well as management, quality assurance, organizational resources and product development. The certification confirms that IADC’s accreditation initiatives meet the quality and consistency of internationally recognized standards.  

International Development

The IADC International Development team forged ahead this year, connecting with IADC members around the globe, partnering with industry trade organizations and working with governmental bodies to shape regulations. IADC is rooted in Europe, the UK, Brazil, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Australasia and Latin America via a network of regional representatives and 10 regional chapters located outside of the US. 

The collective expertise and experience of the International Development team proved especially valuable during these unprecedented times. Despite the challenges of 2021, the team remained focused on core issues impacting members and pivoted to unexpected matters as needed. Examples of these activities include: 

• Continued efforts, alongside the IADC Southeast Asia Chapter, to push for an extension to allow foreign-flagged MODUs to work offshore Indonesia. The current exemption process is not time limited or restricted. A number of foreign-flagged MODUs have secured work offshore Indonesia.  

• Partnered with the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) and members of the International Regulators Forum (IRF) in Australia and Canada regarding an IRF forum on digitalization and incident investigation practices.

• Worked with the IADC South Central Asia (SCA) Chapter to advocate for retaining current offshore licensing exemptions for MODUs as the Ministry of Transport considered new laws that would remove these long-standing conditions. 

• Presented alongside SCA Chapter officers to ONGC Director Onshore and Director T&FS in January to discuss IADC resources and collaborative efforts to improve India’s safety culture. 

• Presented at a Cross-Border Coordination in Spill Prevention and Response conference for the Suriname-Guyana region.

• Continued monitoring/participating with various joint trade groups to facilitate global movement of essential upstream personnel amid the pandemic. Other participating organizations include the IOGP, the International Marine Contractors Association and the International Support Vessel Owners Association.

• Partnered with API and IOGP to plan a standards and regulatory information forum to be delivered to Suriname ministry officials.  

• Supported the SCA Chapter in the development/delivery of a series of webinars on cyclone/hurricane preparedness and lessons learned after Cyclone Tauktae caused significant damage to operations offshore India in May.

• Presented at the Suriname International Petroleum & Gas Summit and the Guyana International Petroleum & Gas Summit, providing an overview of IADC, its membership and presence in the region. 

IADC’s regional representatives are deeply knowledgeable about operational issues and the regulatory landscape of the regions in which they are based. This knowledge, combined with strong local connections, enable the ability to pivot when needed and support members amidst challenging circumstances.

The IADC Drilling Engineers Committee hosted a virtual technology forum on 29 September under the theme “Performance Limiters.” Clockwise from top left are: Marcus Howell, Patterson-UTI; Matt Isbell, Hess; Fred Fard, BPX Energy; Fred Dupriest, Texas A&M University; and Paul Pastusek, ExxonMobil. The event aimed to give attendees a better understanding of drilling performance limiters and how to overcome those obstacles to improve overall drilling excellence.


Two new committees were established in 2021– Sustainability and Directional Drilling Services. 

The Sustainability Committee focuses on facilitating the exchange of information regarding ESG standards, definitions and best practices among IADC members, standards organizations and the wider industry. The committee held its first meeting in April and began working on a guidance document for drilling contractors.

The Directional Drilling Services Committee was formed to provide a space for members to collectively advocate, share knowledge, exchange ideas and address issues facing the directional drilling industry. 

These two new committees join an existing slate of 17 committees, which remained active throughout the year. Examples of their work include:  

• Advanced Rig Technology: held virtual events on the DDR Plus and Drill Bit Forensics and established an Energy Efficiency Subcommittee to foster industry collaboration on emissions-reducing technologies related to drilling rigs. 

• Maintenance: formed an Equipment Integrity & Reliability Subcommittee. The subcommittee has been conducting monthly meetings ahead of quarterly Maintenance Committee meetings to discuss common equipment issues and document findings as a way to more effectively collaborate with OEMs. 

• Technical Publications: published Well Integrity for Workovers and Recompletions, which delivers the concise steps and processes necessary to minimize failure in producing wells. 

• Young Professionals: tripled the size of the committee, hosted a networking happy hour with close to 100 attendees, and developed panel sessions for the IADC Sustainability Conference and Annual General Meeting. Additional networking events are being planned for November and December.  

Nearly 100 people turned out for in-person networking at a happy hour hosted by the IADC Young Professionals Committee on 29 July in Houston. The committee has continued to generate strong interest over the past year, tripling its membership.

• Drilling Engineers: hosted three technology forums, “Geothermal Drilling Challenges,” “Effective Communication Drives Well Delivery,” and “Performance Limiters.” A fourth event is set for November, “Future of Energy: Opportunities for Drilling and Equipment Innovation.”

• Underbalanced Operations & Managed Pressure Drilling: the API 16RCD Subcommittee continued work on API 16RCD, 3rd Edition Specification Document, and on the ballot process for the Influx Management Annex to API 92S and 92M specification documents. 

• Workforce Development: formed a panel session to share best practices on virtual instruction due to the increase in online training across the industry. 

• Cybersecurity: continued work on cybersecurity guidelines. 

• Well Control: engaged regulator representatives for the latest information on updated requirements and retained technical presentations on the most recent well control techniques and equipment.  

Government and Industry Affairs 

IADC advocates on behalf of the drilling industry by proactively engaging with and serving as an educative resource to regulatory and legislative bodies.

The Government and Industry Affairs (GIA) team remained steadfast in its efforts throughout the year to influence policies, standards and regulatory issues and keep IADC members abreast of matters that may impact operations. Examples of this work include: 

• Collaborated with the Offshore Operators Committee (OOC), Center for Offshore Safety, API, and the US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) on BSEE’s safe lifting initiative. 

• Participated in the OOC’s monthly COVID-19 status calls, comprised of drilling and production stakeholders in the Gulf of Mexico, the US Coast Guard and BSEE. 

• Facilitated clarification of the US Coast Guard’s Maritime COVID-19 policy as applicable to offshore personnel working on the US Outer Continental Shelf.

• Joined a coalition of five other industry organizations to collectively voice support for members of the offshore energy sector. The coalition advocates on behalf of seafarers and energy sector personnel working offshore to ensure their challenges are recognized and addressed. These challenges include denial of shore leave, restrictions on movement to and from vessels, repatriation, medical attention and access to COVID-19 vaccinations. 

• Distributed IADC Drilling Reports every month to House and Senate energy staff and the chiefs of staff for the governors of the top 14 drilling states.

• Issued letters to Democratic members of Texas delegation detailing IADC offshore members’ opposition to repealing net operating loss-related tax provisions.

• Held meetings with Texas delegation highlighting potential damage to offshore members’ operations and profitability in relation to possible changes to the US tax landscape. 

• Joined a Federal Lands Coalition led by the Petroleum Equipment & Services Association along with five other industry organizations to collaborate on outreach to members of Congress with regards to federal leasing ban restrictions.

• Met with the British Rig Owners Association on clarifications for possible application of certain IMO Polar Code provisions to MODUs operating in Arctic and Antarctic regions. 

• Kept members informed of Congressional matters with weekly Washington, DC, updates. 

• Organized a rig tour in the Barnett Shale for members of the Congressional Western Caucus.

• Partnered with the Western Energy Alliance, US Oil & Gas Association, and the Energy Workforce & Technology Council to challenge members of the House Natural Resources Committee on several oil and gas provisions included in the Budget Reconciliation Act.

• Implemented an online donation system for the IADC DRILLERSPAC, giving member companies and employees an instantaneous way to support the industry. The DRILLERSPAC is planning its first in-person events in Houston and Washington, DC, in 2022. 


Serving as a news and information source for members and the industry is at the very core of IADC activities. Through its flagship magazine, Drilling Contractor, monthly eNews and DrillBits newsletters, IADC.org, DrillingContractor.org, Lexicon.org, DrillingMatters.org, and a multitude of other focused communications, IADC strives to deliver critical information in a timely manner to those who need it.  

In its 77th year, Drilling Contractor magazine continued to deliver both the print magazine, the DC Digital Reader with exclusive articles and video interviews, the Drilling Contractor news website, and 12 issues of eNews. These mediums provided in-depth reporting on a variety of critical topics. Examples are: 

Operational efficiency

• Remote operations centers leverage smart tools and automation (January/February issue)

• Electrically powered fleets in fracking (March/April issue)

• Smart data, smart operations (July/August issue)

Technology applications

• The application of expandable liner systems in geologically challenging wells in the North Sea (May/June issue)

• Drill pipe logging sub uses real-time downhole data to improve liner, lower completion installations (May/June issue)

• Cloud-based tools for digital well planning (July/August issue)

Personnel safety/training: 

• The new Basin United safety orientation (March/April issue)

• The use of advanced simulators in blended virtual and hybrid well control training (July/August issue)

• Digital tools deliver continuous learning to increase knowledge retention (July/August issue)


• Industry-backed Energy ESG Council (January/February issue)

• Using AI in a proposed sustainability index (March/April issue)

• Industry alignment with net-zero goals (March/April issue)

• Green innovations to lower emissions (September/October issue)

Virtual panel discussions (VPDs) are another important source of information for the industry – one that has been offered since 2013 and became increasingly important during the pandemic. This year, VPDs covered topics ranging from remote operations to drill bit forensics to the IADC DDR Plus.

DrillBits is a monthly digital newsletter providing information on IADC news and initiatives, including chapters, conferences, committees, accreditation programs, and global legislative and regulatory activity that may have an impact on members and the industry. DrillBits reaches over 20,000 readers monthly. This year, IADC continued to build on momentum from last year’s redesign with an enhanced focus on visual delivery of information and improved topical segmentation. 

IADC maintains four websites that receive close to 40,000 average monthly visitors combined. In 2021, these websites received ongoing maintenance, updates and enhancements with a particular focus on accessibility of information and user experience. Each website serves a unique purpose: 

• DrillingContractor.org: official website of Drilling Contractor magazine; updated with industry news and information in the form of articles and video interviews. The site currently includes more than 500 videos and 6,000 articles on a variety of industry critical topics. 

• IADC.org: official website of IADC; includes association information on membership, accreditation programs, advocacy efforts, HSE initiatives, technical resources, chapters, conferences and committees. 

• Lexicon.org: a glossary of oilfield drilling terms that have been defined in legislation, regulations, standards and/or guidelines. The Lexicon contains more than 10,000 terms and more than 30,000 definitions. 

• DrillingMatters.org: an educational website demonstrating the value of hydrocarbons to humanity, as well as the fundamentals of drilling operations. Includes videos in three sections: Who Needs Us and Why, What We Do and How, and What We Provide.

The IADC student chapter at Texas A&M University organized a virtual HSE summit in April. Speakers included (clockwise from top left) Christi Craddick of the Texas Railroad Commission; Emily Hague with the API; Micah Backlund with H&P; and Larry Nixon with Cudd Well Control.

Student Chapters

IADC’s Student Chapter program was started in 2017 when the need for a formal vehicle to engage with the next generation of young professionals was identified. At that time, students were also expressing a desire for opportunities to engage with the drilling industry while still in school. 

By 2020, the program had expanded to include 10 student chapters, and two more chapters were added this year at the University of Texas in Austin and Curtin University in Perth, Australia.

The chapters provide a unique opportunity for students to learn about the practical side of the industry and their future profession. The IADC Student Chapter program serves as a supplement to the academic aspect provided by the universities. This typically happens through conference participation, rig tours and other industry events, although this has been challenging to do during a global pandemic. 

In 2019 IADC formed a Young Professionals Committee as another way for the association and industry to engage with the next generation of workers. The committee filled a gap between students and more seasoned professionals, and now includes individuals who were members of IADC Student Chapters when they were still in school.

This year, virtual conferences provided an even greater opportunity for student participation. By the end of the year, close to 400 students will have attended IADC conferences, including Sustainability, MPD/UBO, HSE&T Asia Pacific, Advanced Rig Technology and Annual General Meeting. 

Other Student Chapter activities also continued. In April, Texas A&M held an HSE summit, including academia, regulatory and industry perspectives and keynote speaker Christi Craddick of the Texas Railroad Commission. The Student Chapters have also organized meetings and other activities on their campuses as pandemic conditions allowed.

As the academic year ramps up this fall, there is a renewed sense of energy and interest among the student chapters for the 2021-2022 school year. DC

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button