In September I paid a visit to well control and subsea containment specialists Wild Well Control at their facility near Aberdeen, Scotland. During the day, the company showcased their WellCONTAINED solution; a global subsea containment emergency response solution.
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There was a particular focus on ‘preparedness’, with the emphasis being placed on making sure that a company has the ability to rapidly react to incidents and mobilise a relief response; often from all corners of the globe. I learnt that operating companies must have adequate contingency plans, especially those companies that work in harsh and difficult to access regions of the world.
Well control equipment is modularised and despatched when needed via specially chartered aeroplanes to remote locations in difficult terrains. A necessity in formulating an appropriate response to a particular well control event is being aware, in advance, of what methods will need to be deployed in that situation, should it arise. In this respect, oil and gas field operators have an obligation to plan in advance for ‘what if’ scenarios. And in a very practical sense, those ‘on the ground’ need to know exactly who they will call if a well control event occurs on their watch.
Of course not every well control event is as extreme and dramatic as Macondo or the scenes witnessed by many in the oilfields of Kuwait in the Gulf War. There are many hundreds of small scale well control events around the globe each year, each one with its own individual challenges. Well control companies often work together in dealing with spills and fires. Such a collaborative approach is undoubtedly a positive practice for the industry. Every effort needs to be made to rapidly and effectively minimise any industry incident, both to safeguard the lives of our employees and to engender support for the industry on a global scale.
With the majority of well control incidents resulting due to human error rather than equipment failure or sabotage, it is appropriate and necessary for the industry to be investing in enhanced training facilities for oil and gas employees. Many companies are doing just that. In this issue of Oilfield Technology we have a feature that looks at the importance of industry training. A well trained workforce will not only be better equipped to utilise equipment to its fullest potential, but will also be more confident in their decision making processes, being intellectually prepared for certain scenarios and eliminating many of the human errors that inevitably occur when operating in a complex oil or gas field. The workforce should be instilled with an overarching understanding of the business they operate in, and the relevance of their part in the bigger picture, to ensure that employees feel a sense of purpose in the tasks they need to perform within their remits. And of course, technology should be used wisely in order to promote the sharing of knowledge and skills between employees, preparing the young workers to take up the mantle of the older generations.
Preparedness is, therefore, not only the key to effective well control in the field, but is also the key to an effective oil and gas workforce of the future.