WellCAP Plus is ‘top of crown’ for IADC’s WellCAP

By Steve Kropla, IADC

At the Well Control Conference of the Americas in late August, keynote speaker David Payne, Chevron vice president of drilling & completion, drew attention to IADC’s WellCAP Plus program as a key tool for dealing with some of the industry’s complex training needs.

WellCAP Plus provides a high-level skill set for well control and challenging learning experiences. It serves as both an alternative and a supplemental program to the standard WellCAP supervisory level training by promoting a discovery process that improves critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

The course is intended primarily for managers, company men, engineers and rig supervisors who have previously attended typical well control supervisory courses and are seeking to challenge their well control skills at a higher level. The suggested minimum level for participation is driller, and participants must have at least two prior supervisory level certificates, including a current certificate.

Chevron has been one of the most active WellCAP Plus providers. Although the company did not hold any WellCAP Plus courses in 2007 due to other operational needs, it has now scheduled one for February 2008 in Thailand. Other accredited WellCAP Plus providers include Transocean, Randy Smith Training Solutions and Wild Well Control. Aberdeen Drilling Schools and Murchison Drilling School have programs pending accreditation.


Recently, petroleum regulators in Europe have taken notice of WellCAP Plus. Ferdinand Gubler, senior inspector with the State Supervision of Mines in the Netherlands and member of the North Sea Offshore Authorities Forum (NSOAF) Well Group, said NSOAF is updating a position paper for well control competence training for Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and UK. The paper will address more specific training needs for specialized drilling applications.

Mr Gubler said that although NSOAF is happy with the basic IADC and IWCF well control courses, regulators have concerns about variable standards of well control training for more complex situations like HPHT and horizontal wells. WellCAP Plus, with its flexible course design and team approach, may provide a vehicle for this advanced training.

Interest in WellCAP Plus is growing in other areas as well. Greg Anderson, president and CEO of Randy Smith Training Solutions, said his company is in developing a WellCAP Plus exercise for a major operator based in the Middle East.

One of the greatest attributes of WellCAP Plus, Mr Anderson said, is that it allows training providers to customize course exercises based on real-world events, thereby emphasizing lessons learned in the field. WellCAP offers three standard course scenarios to training providers, but they are free to develop other scenarios to suit their own needs or their customers’ needs. Eventually, IADC hopes to assemble a library of exercises dealing with a diverse range of well control situations.


WellCAP Plus uses facilitation methods originally developed by consultants from the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX), a branch of Texas A&M University. TEEX was funded by donations from companies participating on the Development Team, which also provided guidance and oversight into the direction of the program. Companies represented on the Development Team included Chevron, Unocal, Newfield Exploration, BP, Shell, Amerada Hess, Transocean, Diamond Offshore, GlobalSantaFe, Noble Corp, Weatherford, Wild Well Control, Aberdeen Drilling Schools and Randy Smith Training Solutions.

WellCAP Plus instruction may be provided only by IADC-accredited training providers using certified IADC WellCAP Plus facilitators. So far, TEEX is the sole entity licensed to provide WellCAP Plus facilitator courses. The group has conducted five facilitator workshops involving 45 different participants from Chevron and the former Unocal, Transocean, Diamond Offshore, Randy Smith Training Solutions, Aberdeen Drilling Schools, Wild Well Control, RigTrain, Petroleum College International and Murchison Drilling schools.


Course content for WellCAP Plus is flexible yet focused on progressively difficult exercises for which participants must develop team solutions. Participants must pass a rigorous entry examination. However, in a departure from traditional WellCAP instruction, no exit examination is required; participants are judged on course participation and teamwork.

WellCAP Plus is not intended to replace site-specific training. Site-specific training for all stakeholders is encouraged when the anticipated characteristics and challenges of a particular well warrant additional pre-planning measures and focused mitigation procedures.

WellCAP Plus is a voluntary program; there is no requirement for a WellCAP provider to participate. It is considered a specific type of accreditation with unique requirements for application, review, renewal, recordkeeping and auditing.

The unique form of training approach used in WellCAP Plus is setting new industry standards, and IADC hopes the program will ultimately help make the next generation of complex drilling operations safe and efficient.

More information about WellCAP Plus can be found on the IADC web site at www.iadc.org.

Steve Kropla is IADC’s vice president of accreditation and certification programs.

WellCAP philosophy

IADC’s WellCAP system embraces a philosophy of providing tools needed to establish a well control culture at all levels of a drilling organization.

Introductory level — Rig workers are introduced to the basics of well control equipment.

Fundamental level — Simulator exercises provide a higher level of practical knowledge; recommended for derrickmen, assistant drillers and drillers.

Supervisory level — Involves more complex simulator exercises and calculations; designed for drillers, toolpushers, superintendents and drilling foremen.

WellCAP Plus — Provides a higher-level skill set for well control and more challenging learning experiences by promoting critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

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