In the face of uncertainty and adversity, the drilling industry must stand together

It’s now been about six months since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and IADC and its members continue to tread unfamiliar territory as we try to redefine the new normal. In times of uncertainty such as this, history has shown that the only way forward is together.

That is why IADC was founded 80 years ago, when a group of drilling contractors recognized the need for a collective voice and collective action. That purpose is also why the association has continued to play an important role in bringing people together to promote innovative technology and safe drilling practices.

Jason McFarland, IADC President

IADC’s 80th anniversary is both a time of celebration and reflection. We commemorate the accomplishments and innovations made in the industry. We also look back at the challenges and obstacles that those before us have navigated.

IADC recently surveyed its membership to evaluate what consensus there is on ESG-related issues. We are an industry where good stewardship extends beyond the desktop or doghouse, and IADC recognizes the importance of continuing this long-standing conversation. Member feedback will be incorporated into advocacy strategies and tactical plans to educate regulators, Congress/governmental officials, reporters, the financial sector and the general public.

COVID-19 and OPEC have delivered a double-blow to the energy industry, with ripple effects that will be felt for years to come. That’s why it has become even more important for the industry to stand together. IADC’s advocacy has focused on pressing governments to recognize the essential nature of oil and gas drilling operations and to include support of the energy industry in aid packages.

In the US, as we get closer to the November elections, the IADC DRILLERSPAC political action committee continues to support candidates who have a full understanding of how the pandemic has affected the energy industry. Relationships with informed lawmakers have helped them to make sensible decisions in a time of crisis.

Outside the US, our membership is expanding its reach. The formation of a new Latin America Chapter signals a commitment to address regional issues. We are proud of the hard work of our founding chapter members and look forward to growing IADC’s presence in the region.

Workforce accreditation and competency also remains at the forefront despite shifting COVID-19 protocols. IADC’s WellSharp Live was developed as a temporary distance learning solution to accommodate social distancing requirements and travel restrictions. Progress also continues on IADC’s KREW (Knowledge Retention and Education for our Workforce) program, which addresses the knowledge decay that occurs between two-year training periods. Together, these initiatives ensure the industry has the tools it needs to continue to safely and efficiently deliver well control training.

IADC typically provides opportunities for industry professionals to meet in-person and share knowledge. The current environment, however, has required a shift to virtual events. Committee and chapter meetings, along with Virtual Panel Discussions, have  helped to provide a foundation for virtual conferences. IADC was proud to host three virtual conferences in the past few weeks.

As an industry, we know we are not simply stewards for today but also tomorrow. This requires preparation. As such, IADC has stepped up efforts to develop its future workforce.

In May, IADC hosted a webinar with India’s Maharashtra Institute of Technology on post-pandemic challenges for petroleum engineers.

Members from the student chapters at Texas A&M University and the University of Louisiana-Lafayette are serving on a workgroup to update IADC’s Standard Format Equipment List. As classes resume among these various schools, we are committed to supporting the next generation as they prepare to enter the workforce. IADC anticipates continued expansion of its student chapter program this fall to include the University of Texas at Austin and Pandit Deendayal Petroleum University in Gujarat, India.

As we continue to tread a new path forward, it is easy to see why the association was formed 80 years ago. At that time, there was no IADC Daily Drilling Report, no training simulators, no RigPass, no standard drilling contracts, no ISP reporting, no industrywide advocacy groups. Everyone was simply “figuring it out” on their own.

But with the individual efforts of members volunteering valuable time and expertise for the collective good, the industry has created an abundance of practical and impactful solutions. IADC’s commitment to collaboration has, time and time again, led to innovation improving the safety of our people and the security of our industry.

I am heartened by what can be accomplished when IADC members come together. This was the case 80 years ago when the first members came together as an association, with nothing but a founding document and a commitment to solve common challenges. It remains the case today.

Despite all of the uncertainties of the road ahead, we can figure it out together. DC

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