To earn stakeholder trust, industry must show fitness to operate
Demonstrating improved performance, competence, stewardship will be key to maintaining license to operate
By Amy Rose, IADC director of external relations
Stephen Colville is president/CEO of the International Association of Drilling Contractors (IADC).
From your perspective as president and CEO of IADC, what are the critical issues the drilling community currently faces?
As an industry, we need to tell our story better. A crucial gap remains between the work that the industry does and how society understands that work. This disconnect has led to strong challenges on our license to operate. However, we must remember that continuous access to energy underpins modern life. There are strong indicators that by 2020 energy demand will significantly outpace supply. Governments are increasingly mindful of this fact and the need to continuously produce energy in all forms.
Drilling plays a leading role in that continuous production, both in the development of new reservoirs and the extension of mature ones. Suspending drilling operations is not an option. It is therefore critical that we continue to talk openly about who we are and what we stand for.
Maintaining our license to operate also requires trust – from governments and regulators and from society at large. To earn that trust, industry must demonstrate it is fit to operate. That is to say that our people, equipment, processes and systems are all fit for purpose and with a record of safe operations.
How can the industry demonstrate this fitness to operate?
To prove our fitness to operate, industry must demonstrate three key elements: improved performance, professional competence and responsible stewardship. First, improved performance is critically important for continued access to more challenging resources around the world. To continue to demonstrate consistently improving performance, industry must commit itself to eliminating injuries, enhancing process safety, reducing nonproductive time, improving equipment reliability and increasing efficiency.
The second aspect is around competence, which means professionalizing our workforce so everything on a rig is done according to industry-accepted standards and practices. This requires training our workforce to be capable, which means they know what to do and how to do it, and to be compliant, which means they are doing the right things in the right way. The third leg to this competence stool is credentialing, which means verifying against industrywide standards that personnel are properly skilled, trained and competent in their jobs.
In the future, people from outside our industry should be able to look at us and instantly see that we have the proper oversight, standards and guidelines in place to effectively measure our performance. We can then develop metrics to effectively evaluate and drive improved performance.
Simultaneous to improved performance and competence, industry also must demonstrate the attitudes and behaviors of responsible stewardship. We must act as trusted stewards, accessing energy on behalf of society in ways that respect the environment and the communities in which we operate. It means we must view hydrocarbons as precious societal resources and strive to recover them in the safest, cleanest and most efficient ways possible.
How is IADC addressing the concerns of improving performance, competence and stewardship?
Prevention is central to IADC’s response to raising the performance of our industry and maintaining it at a high level. Much of our industry’s efforts, especially post-Macondo, have been on the right-hand side of the bowtie – preparedness for mitigation and remediation of incidents. IADC is undertaking wide-ranging initiatives to help our members with the left-hand side of the bowtie by focusing on prevention. We strongly believe that raising performance levels and standards will greatly reduce incident rates.
What are some of the specific ways that IADC is working to solve these critical issues, keeping in mind the focus on prevention?
It’s important to note that nothing is more important, or top of mind, in our industry than well control. The formation of the Well Control Institute (WCI), initiated last year, will be finalized and fully operational by the middle of this year and will be central to our effort of improving performance. The WCI will draw together all aspects of well control and represent a global cross-industry effort to focus initially on training and assessment but also on every aspect of well control, including equipment, systems and processes. We are working to assemble representatives from across the industry to participate on the WCI Board of Directors and Advisory Panel.
Alongside that, the Knowledge, Skills and Abilities, or KSAs, project is almost complete and will deliver KSAs for virtually all rig-based positions. This project is about helping individual personnel understand the key knowledge and skills they should have to perform their job. The KSAs will also provide a blueprint to assess and train industry personnel to improve performance.
The third key initiative for IADC is working to attract people to our industry, retaining them and raising their capabilities. This is our Workforce Attraction and Development Initiative (WADI), which will be completed in 2014. WADI has an international scope and pulls together representatives from colleges across the globe to build curriculums and assessments for new entrants to our industry. The effort will result in creating a larger pool of hirable people and ensure that these newhires are pre-qualified with a comprehensive understanding of safety and drilling activities in general.
Over the past year, we’ve heard a lot about how IADC is adapting and changing to better meet the critical needs of the drilling community. Can you talk more about that evolution?
IADC has always played a role in connecting people and providing the space for collaboration and creating solutions. The change has come through a new strategic direction, which is to serve as a catalyst for improved performance. We are focused on taking a leading role on an international stage to become the authoritative voice for the drilling community.
This is what necessitated the change of our visual identity so we can provide a strong and obvious visual cue that IADC is evolving. We are building on our past and our heritage. Wherever drilling operations take place, IADC will be there to advocate on behalf of the drilling community. We continue to ask people to step up as active participants in bringing people together to enact positive change in our industry.
The issues you noted, particularly around competence and well control, loom large over the industry. Do you think they can be successfully tackled in the short term?
Yes, although the challenge is vast and it won’t happen overnight. This is a journey. The challenge to improve performance is ongoing. I see IADC as the catalyst to facilitate this change. We provide the venue to draw people together as a collaborative community to bring about this change. The challenges I’ve discussed are not insurmountable. The desire and will to solve them is there. We are going through the physical steps to make it happen.
I believe that in the next five years, we will see a huge and significant step-change in the performance of our industry through a variety of measures, including reduced nonproductive time, safety records and incident rates.
It’s no longer a question of whether these changes will happen. They will happen, and there will be a significant enhancement in the performance of our industry.