Level 1

Post the devastating BP Deepwater Horizon explosion, the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (IOGP) recommended the formation of a five-tier well control training syllabus to improve safety in the oil and gas industry.

To meet these recommendations, in early March 2016, the International Well Control Forum (IWCF) launched a basic well control awareness e-learning course specifically designed to meet these recommendations.

Now, in an unusual step, the IWCF has decided to offer the first ever basic Level-1 training course available to absolutely anyone.

The course, developed in partnership with oil and gas e-learning providers Oilennium, is aimed at those with a secondary involvement in well control, as well as students considering a career in oil and gas, and long-term workers wanting to increase their understanding of how well control events can occur. Heidi Vella-Starr spoke to Kirsten Howkins(PR and communications officer at IWCF to find out more.

Heidi Vella-Starr: Please tell us more about the new e-learning courses created by IWCF.

Kirsten Howkins: Level-1 has been introduced as part of a system of courses which ranges from Level-1 to Level-5. Level-1 is the basic awareness course for non-critical personnel with Level-5 being designed as an advanced course for operations integrity management systems (OIMS), engineers and the most senior management team.

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Those working on the rigs, for example drillers, completions supervisors, intervention specialists and so-on will have trained up to Level-4 and will be the key personnel responsible for controlling emergency situations, such as those presented by Macondo.

As a basic awareness course Level-1 would not provide key rig personnel with the skill set to carry out actions to prevent another Macondo, but would complement the higher level of training they have to undertake as a mandatory requirement to their employment.

Level-1 is imperative in getting users interested and knowledgeable about the field by giving them an introduction to the industry so that they can interact more effectively with others in it.

HVS: What does the course include?

KH: The course includes seven modules. There is a Knowledge Check Quiz at the end of every module, with one final exam which consists of 30 questions at the end of the course to reinforce the learning from the seven modules.

"Level-1 is imperative in getting users interested and knowledgeable about the field ."

The course takes approximately one day to complete. However, the modules are designed to allow you to bookmark your progress so you can do the training at your own pace. Your login doesn’t expire which allows you to re-visit modules to clarify any points you may be unsure on.

Level-1 is a highly interactive course and was purposely designed to engage users this way. Each Knowledge Check quiz is interactive as it asks you to drag and drop answers, as well as highlight the correct answers or select from a list of choices. The modules offer further interactivity with candidates being able to alter pressure in the well, the depth of a drilling rig and open/close valves on blowout preventer (BOP).

HVS: Why does the IWCF think it’s important to offer the course without restriction and free of charge worldwide?

KH: As a non-profit organisation it was important to IWCF, particularly in the current climate, to give something back to the industry. By making this training available for free worldwide, we believe that we can help to increase understanding of how well control events occur and their consequences and prevention.

For educational institutes this course being available at no cost is extremely useful as an additional learning tool to course syllabi. Many educational institutes including Texas A&M in Qatar and Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen have rolled this course out to all engineering students as a mandatory additional component to their university degree.

HVS: What other interest have you had in the course so far?

KH: Since launching in March there have been over 4,500 registrations for the course from over 1,000 energy sector companies and universities in over 100 different countries.

These companies include Weatherford, KCA Deutag, BP, Shell, Schlumberger, Seadrill, Halliburton, Total and Petronas to name a few.

HVS: Can you give an example of one of the specific skills people can gain from the course?

KH: The information from the course is designed to simply make people aware of the oil and gas industry and the terminology that is used by industry professionals for drilling and well intervention.

Module 4 is an example of some specific knowledge that users will encounter. This module covers well control during drilling operations and details that any loss of primary well control must be quickly recognised and acted upon. The module highlights the equipment that is used if the primary barrier fails and a kick is experienced. Key personnel roles and responsibilities are explained so users learn the process of when a kick is detected and who is responsible for controlling this situation.

By raising awareness of kicks and barrier failures, it enables office based staff to understand the importance of these incidents and offer support to workers who have been involved by understanding the terminology and significance of these events.

HVS: What are the benefits of the e-learning aspect? Is e-learning sufficient enough for personnel to learn the practical skills they might need?

KH: E-learning offers multiple benefits to users and organisations; for example [there are] no classroom or travel costs, it is self-paced, it is easy to navigate and fully trackable offering statistics of course completion marks, such as what questions candidates are getting incorrect, etc.

"Level-1 was designed as an awareness course for those who work in office-based roles or for students/graduates who want to know more about the industry that they hope to enter."

Focusing specifically on Level-1, the course being designed as an e-learning initiative has proved hugely beneficial to our users. Feedback has confirmed that the e-learning modules enable users to learn at their own pace and revise modules which they haven’t fully grasped.

Level-1 was designed as an awareness course for those who work in office-based roles or for students/graduates who want to know more about the industry that they hope to enter. Level-1 does not offer practical skills, but instead acts as a way of learning the basics of well control in an interactive environment.

HVS: Are accessible training courses the key to broadening skill sets and improving emergency preparedness?

KH: Accessible training courses such as Level-1 are imperative to improve basic knowledge within the industry.

It is difficult to say what the ‘key’ to emergency preparedness is, but there must at least be a mix of accessible training courses, on the job training and always acting as a reflective practitioner. By this we mean that processes and actions should always be reviewed with the intention of improving and becoming more efficient, and ultimately safer.

HVS: Basic courses can help newcomers engage with the industry, but what about longstanding workers who need to get a better idea of an unfamiliar aspect of offshore operations?

KH: As an awareness course that covers both drilling and well intervention, the course can act as a refresher to those who may be unfamiliar with the different aspects of well control. For example, Level-1 gives drillers an in-depth insight into well intervention operations including workover and pressure control. It also allows well intervention crews [to gain] an insight into drilling rigs and formation pressure when the well is being drilled.

This course will benefit anyone involved in the industry. It covers a broad range of topics in a suitable amount of depth. Even though it’s only Level-1, it’s still detailed enough to keep those who have been in the industry a while interested.

HVS: Since the fall in oil price, do you think personnel training has still remained a focus for oil companies?

KH: After viewing the IWCF figures for 2015, our test sessions on the whole for both drilling and well intervention have both increased.

Compared to 2014, drilling registrations have increased in 2015 by 7.8% and well intervention registrations have increased by 7.1%, which would highlight that critical role specific training has not been put on the back-burner.