Do well control drills really work? Have you ever wondered about the effectiveness of the current practice of conducting well control drills? What more can we do to drive safety assurance? Is there another method that is more proactive or less reactive?

Traditionally, ad hoc meetings and safety briefings are conducted with the operator, service providers, and drilling contractors to align goals and objectives and operational risk management strategies. While these collaborations must continue and strengthen, they may not be sufficient for continued safety assurance. This possible insufficiency is further exacerbated by the transitory nature of the personnel, products, and services at the wellsite. Changing market conditions, dwindling capital expenditure and budgets, and the ever-increasing complexity of exploring and recovering hydrocarbons call to question reliance on traditional safety approaches. Industry incidents continue to demonstrate that they may not be sufficiently comprehensive. So, the question is: How can we ensure that transitory local crews can effectively respond to threats that pose an imminent risk to loss of well control?

The current method of well control drills has shortcomings. It is highly reactive and essentially only addresses the right-hand side of a BowTie risk assessment. In other words, the assumption is that we must focus drill efforts on personnel responses once the top event (on a BowTie) presents itself. Little or no action focuses on conducting threat-response drills to address the left-hand side of the BowTie risk assessment.

This paper presents a new approach for conducting drills at the right time, the right location, and with the right personnel to maximize the likelihood that we can respond to major disruptions when they occur. This new approach proactively manages risk, drives operational and safety assurance, and enhances the effectiveness of local crews who are the front line in preventing or mitigating loss of well control or loss of primary containment.

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