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IFP Training’s pioneering use of simulation advances drilling knowledge

Leading oil and gas trainer, IFP Training, is developing unique simulator training programmes for drilling and well control practices.

IFP Training is developing unique simulator training programmes to enhance knowledge of difficult drilling conditions and improve understanding of drilling and well control practice for senior personnel.

A subsidiary of the IFP Group, IFP Training delivers industry-recognised, competency-based training to more than 15,000 professionals annually in a wide range of areas including Exploration & Production, Refining & Petrochemicals, Powertrains, Sustainable Mobility, Energy Transition, and Economics & Management.

The company has been using Drilling Systems’ simulators since the early 1990s to provide International Well Control Forum (IWCF) training and assessments. However, four years ago, it began to explore the possibilities of tailoring training to extend learning beyond ‘regular well control’.

Working in close collaboration with Drilling Systems, IFP Training developed software to realistically simulate physical drilling phenomena. This enabled the team to create a variety of new simulator scenarios which moved beyond traditional well control modelling, including events such as gas dissolution in nonaqueous-based mud, blowout preventer failure and narrow mud windows.

“People can spend an entire career without facing an operation or a problem but, if it suddenly happens, they need to be able to handle and manage the situation. Simulation can help personnel become comfortable with all operations and technologies.”

Manuel Fabien, IFP Training

Following a highly successful pilot session for supervisors and engineers, featuring five new scenarios, IFP Training launched its Enhanced Simulator Training Programme, which has been validated as a “must” for major operators. The programme significantly advances the theoretical, technical and practical experience of supervisors and engineers and helps them to understand the job of others including the drilling contractor.

Manuel Fabien from IFP explains: “All of the situations and scenarios we’ve developed for our ‘Enhanced Simulator Training Programme’ have come from real cases so give supervisors and engineers a unique opportunity to experience events they may not have seen in their careers to date. This helps ensure trainees are fully prepared for all eventualities in the field.

“We cover all phases in-depth. For example, preparation of operations includes a full risk assessment and reinforces the importance of adhering to company rules. The well monitoring and integrity is primordial and this is a habit we absolutely want to put in the mind of the trainees. It should become like second nature and automatic to ensure, in all the situations, the well is under control. Anticipation, contingencies, management of the crew, management of change, versatility are all skills we focus on.

“Being able to understand the work of the other rig workers is also very important. In our training, we put the supervisors and engineers in the unfamiliar role of the drilling contractor. They are able to experience the other side of hole-making and appreciate the complexity of this job. As well as improving overall understanding and communication among teams, this can help to mitigate problems in the field. A “regular” operation can turn into a disaster if the reaction is not appropriated and when everyone understands the big picture it can help to alleviate this.

“IFP Training believes in comprehensive training at every stage of the oil and gas career path. Even after years of experience, there can still be skills-gaps and lack of understanding for some operations. People can spend an entire career without facing an operation or a problem but, if it suddenly happens, they need to be able to handle and manage the situation. Simulation can help personnel become comfortable with all operations and technologies such as shallow gas kick, ultra-deep-water specificities, gas in riser, cementing job for casing and liners, unusual kicks while logging or running a complex completion string, underground blowout, Managed Pressure Drilling and a lot more.

“We must follow and master the technology and ensure we don’t hide behind it. Increasing knowledge and understanding by pushing the boundaries through simulation can help us to overcome the oil and gas industry’s greatest challenges.

“Simulation is definitely the future. Drilling the well on the simulator before actually drilling the well, writing the drilling program with drilling engineers and drilling it with the supervisor’s instructions. This is where our industry’s future lies!”

As well as IWCF certification, IFP Training provides training in a wide variety of operations, covering most stages of a well, on all types of rigs and can design tailor-made scenarios for oil, gas, water and geothermal drilling and completion. Visit the IFP Training website to find out more.

Clive Battisby, head of simulation at 3T Energy Group, which includes Drilling Systems, said: “We are delighted to work with IFP Training to advance learning across the oil and gas sector.  IFP’s innovative approach to simulation shows what is possible in training and how it can be used way beyond standard exercises.”