Advanced Well Control” is a one-week training programme
run by Aberdeen Drilling School (ADS) for BP drilling personnel. It’s
designed as a well control school which addresses "operational"
well control issues beyond the limits of a standard IWCF or WellCAP syllabus,
by focusing on the "real life" practical aspects of well control.
This is done through a combination of morning lecture-and-workshop sessions
with practical simulation exercises in the afternoons. The team-based
simulator work relates to the topics covered in the classroom. An IADC
WellCAP exam is taken during the course, so candidates receive a recognised
well control certification on completion of the training. However, the
importance of this course goes far beyond “certification”
requirements. Jim Cowie, BP Wells Program Manager (HAC - North Sea SPU)
who is the BP “custodian” of the course, commented: “We
need to be teaching the people in our organisation how to identify
and manage well control situations, not just how to pass a well control
exam. This is what the Advanced Well Control course is about: it
provides delegates with a deeper understanding of influx behaviour
and the challenges when managing well control situations.”
Q: "How does it differ from a "normal" well
ADS: Rather than present the conventional basic
well control theory aimed at preparing candidates for a well control test
only, the BP course addresses such issues as HPHT and Deep Water well
control concerns, which do not feature in a standard syllabus. Moreover,
it focuses on well control situations from a practical perspective, far
more in line with current industry well control philosophies. For example,
"realistic" versus "theoretical" conditions one can
expect when using the "Wait and Weight Method" for well killing
operations are compared. The comparison shows that the "Driller’s
Method" in a large number of "real life" situations can
actually offer significant advantages over the theoretical results of
the "Wait and Weight Method". The course is also intentionally
structured with a split of classroom theory and team-based simulator work,
theory in the morning and simulator work in the afternoon. This practical
emphasis is radically different from a "standard" well control
course where simulations are restricted to a familiarisation session followed
by practical assessment. In this set-up the candidates get far more exposure
to the rig and well control equipment and can play various roles (e.g.
assistant driller, driller, supervisor, engineer). Well control situations
in challenging well types (such as horizontal and deepwater) can be simulated.
Q: "Isn't this really two courses in one"?
ADS: The overall aim of the course is to provide a suitably
challenging and rewarding opportunity for BP drilling/engineering personnel
to significantly enhance their knowledge and understanding of operational
well control scenarios. The course contents go far beyond those of a standard
Well Control course. It provides far more than just the basics and some
people find this somewhat confusing, as the insight gained from the operational
well control course may show the “shortcomings” of some of
the conventional approaches outlined and tested in a standard course/exam.
It is, therefore, necessary to include an element of preparation for the
well control exam. This is done in three ways:
1) Pre-course "Work Pack" exercises (given in advance of the
2) Exam-related homework assignments (given during the week);
3) Well Control "Principles" and "Equipment" sessions
(as part of the class work).
It is expected that the personnel attending the course will already have
sufficient appreciation of the fundamentals of well control, and will
therefore be at a level which would allow them to take and pass the WellCAP
exam while being given the opportunity to tackle realistic and up-to-date
well control scenarios and related concerns in the classroom and workshop
sessions. Also, in order to measure the candidates’ understanding
of the “advanced/non-standard” elements of the course, ADS
have added a “WellCAP Test Part 2” which relates to the issues
taught in the course.
Q: "Why is this course of any importance?"
ADS: This course enhances knowledge, far beyond the “basics”
and more in line with 'real life'. Its objective is to familiarise BP
staff with real-life conditions that they will encounter in a well control
situation, as these will be significantly different from those portrayed
by basic theory and practices. This course provides a great insight into
the impact of well control situations for deep water, oil based mud, horizontal
wells and HPHT applications. Thus it provides the well engineering professional
with crucial knowledge, as consequences of an unfortunate decision taken
with the best of intentions, but based on incomplete and inadequate practical
knowledge, can easily lead to a disastrous outcome.