Most of the existing drilling and completions engineering applications in use today were designed to compute snapshots at a single point in time for one user, rather than presenting the acceptable operating envelope and its associated constraints over time and supporting interaction of multi-disciplinary teams in collaborative environments.

The massive increase in data now available from real time sensors can make identification of critical factors more difficult and can hinder, rather than enhance the decision making capability and response to alarm conditions. Currently, interaction between individual team members is cumbersome and it takes place outside the applications. Teams are increasingly multi-cultural, which places additional demands on the human-computer interface and cultural and linguistic preferences need to be considered, particularly where collaboration centres span international boundaries. The applications are also part of a growing portfolio, including office and knowledge management tools. Their usefulness and efficiency depends on successful integration. In turn, this depends critically on standards. The working practices emerging from the use of these environments means the earlier applications are no longer optimised for the circumstances in which they are to be used.

The paper contains a discussion of these changes and the new functionality required of the applications using a popular model in industrial psychology. It draws on practices from other industries, observations in collaborative environments and other, earlier work within our own industry that appeared before their time. It is concluded that new applications are needed for this new era and that some may bear more resemblance to gaming software than raw calculating engines. It also concludes that a number of the constraints may be self-imposed, by our failure to keep pace with the rapid and continuing developments in information and communications technology and the business models developed for the virtual world.


Observations of working practices and technologies may highlight factors that if addressed, would greatly enhance their effectiveness. In some cases early recognition of these factors may be critical to the project's success. In the 1980's efforts to implement collaboration centres were hampered by inadequate attention to human factors and immature technologies1. Now, variations of these centres are in common use in both operator and service company offices worldwide. Even if successful, it is normal for these limiting factors to change over time. As weaknesses or opportunities are identified and addressed, capabilities leap-frog each other leaving another aspect at the bottom of the pile and so the cycle continues. In some cases second generation centres have already been constructed, incorporating lessons learned from the first attempt2 and we see this cycle applies to drilling collaboration centres too.

Observations over the last seven years in drilling collaboration centres in Norway and Aberdeen suggest the emphasis is now changing. Whilst human factors are still key3, in established centres greater attention is now being directed towards the technology and tools and how they are used.

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