The general form of drilling rigs has remained relatively unchanged for decades. Yet equipment, systems, and methods of a modern rig would be unrecognizable to crews of 20 years ago. In structured tasks, manual controls have largely yielded to automated control systems that require minimal crew intervention. Automation has increased the feasibility of many projects through the use of managed pressure drilling techniques which were previously impractical, if not impossible. But this separation of crew from manual controls, especially with the introduction of new MPD methods, has changed the role of the operator and has invited questions regarding competency and how it is achieved.

Automation has benefitted the industry, but to properly adjust to these changes, it must be recognized that the role of the driller and crew has changed not only in degree but also in kind. This paper is meant to highlight the growing gap between conventional and future competency requirements by discussing new challenges which exist between the driller and the rig brought on by automation as well as difficulties related to the expanded use of new MPD methods. Similarities exist with pilot awareness in the aviation industry that will be discussed along with potential solutions. However there are a unique set of challenges will be addressed which face the drilling industry presenting greater difficulty. Ultimately, a portrait of a future competency program will be presented.

You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.