American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc.

This paper was prepared for the 49th Annual Fall Meeting of the Society of Petroleum Engineers of AIME, to be held in Houston, Texas, Oct. 6–9, 1974. Permission to copy is restricted to an abstract of not more than 300 words. Illustrations may not be copied. The abstract should contain conspicuous acknowledgment of where and by whom the paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in the JOURNAL paper is presented. Publication elsewhere after publication in the JOURNAL OF PETROLEUM TECHNOLOGY or the SOCIETY OF PETROLEUM ENGINEERS JOURNAL is usually granted upon request to the Editor of the appropriate journal provided agreement to give proper credit is made. provided agreement to give proper credit is made. Discussion of this paper is invited. Three copies of any discussion should be sent to the Society of Petroleum Engineers office. Such discussions may be presented at the above meeting and, with the paper, may be considered for publication in one of the two SPE magazines.


The present supply of qualified personnel is inadequate to continue the industry's traditional practices at the present level of operation. Changes are taking place, and more are needed to ascertain that the industry maintains a minimally adequate operating force. Consultants are being employed to an increasing degree; turnkey operations are more common, as is increasing reliance on contract drilling supervisors for over-all supervision of drilling operations. Improved working conditions and remuneration are needed to attract and keep rig personnel and line supervision in the field. personnel and line supervision in the field. A complete revision of management philosophy of personnel utilization is mandatory. personnel utilization is mandatory.


With the advent of the great energy shortage and the resultant 100-percent utilization of drilling rigs, the industry seems to be awakening to a problem that has been developing for quite some time. Most operating companies, large and small, new and old, are critically short of capable operating personnel. Drilling contractors have been telling us for years that they cannot keep experienced people to run their rigs efficiently. Technology has far outstripped performance at all levels of the industry.

Most major operational problems encountered are predictable, and very few are the result of unpreventable mechanical failure. Necessary information from previously drilled wells and means of obtaining data from drilling wells are available to preclude most of the problems with which we are beset. Yet the industry continues doing a halfway job, poorly managing the supply of often unqualified people it does have.

The situation starts with the drilling contractors' people. The industry has created conditions under which employment on drilling rigs is no longer desirable. It once was common practice to pick up help off the street, even to drag "winos" from under railroad trestles to man drilling and workover rigs. Some contractors still do, but even in this day of full rig utilization, such methods of recruitment are costly both to the contractor and well operator.

The industry must make employment on rigs desirable. We can no longer hide behind our old complaint that the price of our product is too low. Most of us make a profit in spite of our management methods. We ask people to work under conditions and at a wage scale that is well below that for comparable skills, and then we ask them to drive up to 200 miles a day to and from work.

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