Drilling techniques and technology are changing rapidly as the industry continues to innovate in well construction. To keep pace with these advances, training must take a new direction, so that personnel are able to take advantage of new measurements and techniques in real time to improve drilling efficiency and reduce operational risk. In this dynamic and demanding environment, it is imperative that a drilling services organization improve its knowledge management—the ability to capture, share, and apply worldwide expertise—to consistently supply the best drilling solutions and practices. This is fundamental to achieving the vision of fully automated drilling systems operated remotely from the town office by a distributed, multidisciplinary team of experts.

Schlumberger started a knowledge management pilot project in early 1999. The initial focus was to build a Knowledge Hub—a Web portal for drilling personnel. Key sections are devoted to best practices and lessons learned. Practices are submitted by field engineers, validated by experts, captured in the knowledge base, and pushed to field crews for use worldwide. Today the ability to use in one part of the world what we have discovered in another is made possible by information technology tools and techniques. However, people are both the key to successful knowledge management and its most challenging element. Success depends on motivating people to share their knowledge and reuse that of others as part of their day-to-day jobs.

This paper describes the steps taken and the lessons learned along the way in establishing and institutionalizing knowledge management for Anadrill. It describes best-practice programs from companies inside and outside the petroleum industry and explains the program that was adopted.


The knowledge management (KM) pilot project started with two major objectives. The first objective was to build a Knowledge Hub—a Web portal for drilling personnel—in essence representing the corporate memory and facilitating the capture and reuse of expert knowledge within the drilling community. The second objective was to develop a Schlumberger standard for knowledge management such that other segments of the company could easily implement similar programs once the pilot program proved successful.

The first five months of the project were spent establishing the supporting KM groups, defining the structure of the hub, and developing an approach for capturing, validating, and disseminating best practices and lessons learned. An important step was seeding the best practices and lessons learned database by mining the bulletin boards used by the drilling community. Once this phase was completed, the program to capture best practices and lessons learned began in earnest, including a recognition program for contributors.

As of this writing, practices are consistently contributed to the database and numerous success stories have been identified to estimate the savings for operators and for Schlumberger. The experience gained in the pilot is now being replicated as the standard in the other Schlumberger segments. Following this expansion phase, the next stage will be to institutionalize KM as part of the culture.

The KM Support Team

Top management in Anadrill initiated the KM project with the support of the corporate KM and IT groups. A "knowledge champion" was assigned to the project, and work began in early 1999. A steering committee was formed to help the knowledge champion set up and organize the hub. This diverse group of people with backgrounds in technique, sales, and management came together in several meetings to devise a useful hierarchical structure for storing and accessing the knowledge. Several members of this group also served later to validate best practices and lessons learned, some as Applied Community Experts (ACEs)—experts that have extensive field experience and knowledge of a technology, and others as Subject Matter Experts (SMEs)—experts on the technology design and function.

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