2018November/DecemberSafety and ESG

Shell bolsters well control training with incorporation of human factors principles

By Linda Hsieh, Managing Editor

Shell is forging ahead with its Leading Advanced Well Control and Front-line Barrier Manager programs, which both incorporate human factors/crew resource management, as the operator seeks to reach its goal of working without any incidents.

Such training courses have come a long way since the late 1990s, when they used to focus on topics such as deepwater or high-pressure, high-temperature operations; always purely technical in nature. Now, the courses are still technical, according to Mark van de Velden, Wells Learning Advisor, Shell Global Solutions. But they encompass much more simulation exercises where participants can be observed and coached on their human factors skills.

These courses have been developed based on the International Association of Oil and Gas Producers (IOGP) reports 476, 502 and 503, Mr van de Velden said at the 2018 IADC Drilling HSE&T Europe Conference on 26 September in Amsterdam.

Shell has identified five topics as being key to its human factors objectives.

First, situational awareness is focused on seeking the most relevant information and maintaining awareness of the bigger picture. “Examples are understanding your team and, from a more practical point, walk the line,” he said.

Second is decision making. “It’s all about understanding your own skills, your own role in the contribution to others. Decision making is very much assessing the risk and what is associated with it,” Mr van de Velden said.

Third is communication, which relates to recognizing the situation, effective listening, paying attention and avoiding pre-judgement of a situation.

Fourth is teamwork – some teams come together and work well from the start, but others may need some coaching.

“The last (human factors topic) is leadership,” he said. “It is basically managing your team in a difficult situation… As a leader, you need to include everybody on your team because you’re only as good as your team.”

Shell now conducts 25-30 courses a year incorporating all of the above as learning objectives.

In each class, half of the students will participate in simulation-based exercises, while the other half observes with the help of a psychologist. The role of the psychologist is to facilitate the conversation: What do they do well, and where can they improve?

“We came up with an observation tool to help us give feedback to the participants in a constructive way,” Mr van de Velden said. “I always say we need to focus very much on the 80% that they do well, because people like to be told they did well, and then sneak in a little bit of what the problems are.”

The tool, developed by Shell’s technical specialists, is currently being vetted by psychologists, he noted.

Course participants are also always given the opportunity to learn from what they see, by using a human factors observation template.

Stress Management

One new initiative relates to making people more aware of how they deal with stress. “You need to have a certain amount of stress to perform well, and you need to know your own recovery factor (from stress),” Mr van de Velden said.

His team has worked to monitor individuals’ heart rates during simulator exercises, as well as during their free time. “That was actually to give people better insight into their well being. It is just amazing to see that some people don’t know exactly what to do with stress, or they don’t recognize it.”

Mr van de Velden said he is also exploring the potential to monitor people’s heart rates in an operational setting as a possible future project.

As part of these training programs, Shell has collected significant amounts of data over the past year and a half – from participants all around the world, in areas like the Middle East, Far East, the United States and Europe. Shell is now collaborating with students who are working on their MSc dissertations, giving them the opportunity to analyze Shell’s human factors data. The goal is to see what conclusions these students can draw from the data and how such conclusions could help Shell to improve its workforce development. DC

About the author

Linda Hsieh is a graduate of the journalism program at the University of Texas at Austin, where she also completed the Business Foundations program at the U.T. McCombs School of Business and minored in Asian Studies. She has been writing for Drilling Contractor since 2005.


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