On-the-rig simulator training helps Wellesley reduce exploration risks

Posted by Judy Stirling


Drilling the well on a simulator before its drilling project in the Norwegian North Sea has proved so successful for oil and gas exploration company, Wellesley Petroleum, it is now looking to roll out the initiative across other well projects.

Wellesley commissioned a mobile ‘On-the-Rig' (OTR) drilling simulator, which is designed and manufactured by advanced simulator developer, Drilling Systems, to train Dolphin Drilling's crews on the Borgland Dolphin in advance of its drilling programme in the North Sea off Norway earlier this year.

The licence prospect included shallow reservoir conditions, with the target depth of 1,100 metres almost three times shorter than the usual 3,000 metres for the UK and Norwegian Continental Shelf. Shallow wells mean drillers have far less reaction time to deal with well control issues.

To minimise the risks, Wellesley worked closely with Drilling Systems and training partner, Survivex, to configure the OTR with well-specific conditions and drilling scenarios based on the drilling programme. This allowed the crew to rehearse possible scenarios before the rig even left the quayside.

The training and well preparation work helped to deliver Wellesley's lowest-cost well for 2020, coming in on time and on budget with high quality safety performance.

Callum Smyth, Operations Manager at Wellesley, said: “Oil exploration is all about uncertainty and mitigating risks and our latest well posed particular technical challenges. We were dealing with a shallow target and needed to ensure the drilling crews were at the very top of their game to respond quickly to potential well control issues.

“Drilling Systems' OTR simulator provided a great tool for reducing our risks by enabling the crew to practise drilling scenarios on essentially a realistic, virtual model of the well. As well as training the crew for the specific conditions, this enabled us to test and fine-tune the well programme for maximum effectiveness. This meant the crew went into operations confident and fully prepared for all eventualities.

“Tailored and accurate training like this creates a really strong team with excellent communication, who all work effectively together and are extremely focused. I've no doubt that this played a part in helping us run an extremely safe operation. In terms of improving safety for the industry this type of on-the-rig training should be rolled out across every rig. We are certainly looking at using the OTR for our next well in 2020.”

Drilling Systems is part of the 3t Energy Group, which is the UK's largest energy sector training provider and includes leading training providers, AIS Training and Survivex and technology company 3t Transform.

Clive Battisby, head of simulation at 3t Energy Group, said: “The strength of the 3t Energy Group lies in our holistic offer, which combines cutting-edge technology with the very best of traditional training. In Wellesley's case we were able to combine tailored simulator training in-situ with experienced instruction to deliver a blended learning solution which met the client's needs. On-the-rig simulator training offers is extremely nimble and flexible solution. It helps crews stay fresh, sharp, focused and aware and this in turn leads to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the field. We are delighted to hear that our On-the-Rig simulator worked well for Wellesley and Dolphin Drilling and their experience shows how valuable drilling the well on a simulator beforehand can be to the final operation.”

Morten Haugland, Rig Manager at Dolphin Drilling, said:” Drilling training can be very generic but the OTR equipment allowed us to undergo well specific training on the rig itself during work time. Our team was very engaged by the training process and having everyone involved – even junior members of the team – meant we could share ideas and experiences which really benefitted the entire team. Onboard training also took some of the ‘classroom tension' away from going to a training centre. It was an extremely worthwhile project and something we would certainly consider again.”

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