Collaborative Environments (CEs) form an increasingly important element in supporting all stages of drilling operations from planning to execution, offering a sophisticated mix of real-time data access, advanced communication methods, and visualization technologies. To progress team use of CEs in business critical situations, a two-hour scenario-based exercise was developed and implemented to help prepare members of drilling teams for distributed, tactical decision-making in CEs. The aim was three-fold: to increase familiarity with CE-capabilities, to improve non-technical skills for distributed working and to improve the facilities design and use. The exercise was designed around three principles - functional and status diversity, geographical distribution, and technological realism - to reflect the complexity of real-life situations. The outcome was measured using questionnaires relating to quality of the decision-making process, quality of information sharing, and familiarity and confidence with the CE, using three measurements over an eight week period.

Results from sessions conducted with six drilling teams indicate that the exercise was perceived as helpful in introducing technological CE-capabilities and improving distributed decision-making. The long-term benefit of the exercise was seen to be impacted by the consistency of subsequent use of technologies and environment. Given the lack of familiarity with the advanced collaboration technologies, a single exercise can thus only be regarded as a first step in building up confidence to use CEs without external support.

Since CEs have become an integral part of drilling operations, teams should undertake training in their use as well as additional non-technical skills to enhance team working. Our study shows that these exercises can be an effective tool for team preparations, but also that they must be designed carefully to reflect real-life complexity. However, one-off exercises are no replacement for consistent technical support. Rather, multiple sessions and hands-on use are required to increase team members’ familiarity and confidence with CEs. The paper describes the exercise, philosophy for the exercise development, reports how it was conducted and provides recommendations for similar initiatives to enhance preparedness and performance in CEs.

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