Noble is leading a new era of well planning and execution through the use of
state-of-the-art simulation technology.
From Conference Room to Simulator
Historically, well preparation between the oil and gas operator and the drilling contractor has been based on a “drilling the well on paper” meeting. Held in a large conference room, these meetings review critical operations, safety procedures and prepare the crews for the well construction sequence. Discussing operational procedures and potential courses of action for various events is beneficial for both parties, but the process is confined to a verbal discussion. To advance this process beyond paper, NobleAdvances Training & Collaboration took up the challenge of integrated simulator operations.
The challenge for integrated simulations is to build an environment and process for a diverse group of skilled professionals working together to deliver safe and efficient deepwater wells. The NobleAdvances DWOS℠ custom simulation makes the leap from theoretical explanation to practical exercise. The goals are to increase collaboration and operational efficiency, reduce the potential for error and miscommunication, and customize the design to match realistic equipment, well and environmental drilling situations.
How Integrated Simulations Work
In early 2015, NobleAdvances started building fully-integrated, dynamic positioning drilling simulation exercises. These state-of-the-art immersive simulations bring drilling, marine crews together with shore-based managers from both Noble and the customer to tackle difficult situations in real-time. The DWOS℠ custom simulation confronts the crews with life-like well control, weather and equipment failure scenarios in a deepwater well. The drilling controls, dynamic positioning and power management are replicated for each vessel, so the rig crew has an authentic environment as if they were working on their rig. Customers provide well construction and geological data, which NobleAdvances translates into rig-specific simulation software.
The simulator components and software are integrated so that faults on one system impact the others. Noble’s Director of Simulator and Technical Training Programs Spanky McGehee explains “the drilling, dynamic positioning, and engine control room simulators are connected to practice responding to system faults, failures, and well control problems during normal operations and in critical activity mode. Expert facilitators control events and role-play additional players from a high-tech control room with audio, video, instrumentation feeds and two-way communications. The DWOS℠ simulation exercises are recorded and a full debrief is facilitated with the crews afterwards to identify learnings and opportunities for improvement.”
Realistic Communication Channels
To create a realistic interchange between driller and operator, there are ship-to-shore only communication channels and operator company men on the rig. To simulate the ship-to-shore element, the shore-based managers are not present in the simulator suites and only accessible via telephone. Rig-based personnel communicate as they would on the rig via vessel telephones and hand-held radios. Certain rig-based crew are free to move from one simulation suite to another if their role on board allows it; however, drillers remain at their stations in the driller’s cabin, the Master and DPO remain on the bridge and the engineers remain in the engine control room, monitoring the power plants and distribution system.
Just like offshore, the day begins with a pre-tour meeting to review current conditions and operations, and to identify any permitted work and safety considerations. Weather reports, vessel traffic and helicopter arrivals are discussed. The drill crew reviews the well status, and the marine and engineering departments discuss sea state and planned or unplanned maintenance. Following the pre-tour meeting, the crews move to their respective work areas and commence operations. Without forewarning, the crews face scenarios which require detection, analysis, decision making, coordination and mitigating action. The crews detect and react as they would on the vessel.
The team identifies and reacts to well control, power loss, and station-keeping scenarios. Judson Herrington, a Chief Engineer on the Noble Bob Douglas, participated in a DWOS℠ custom simulation and shares the value of his experience. “Some of the multiple-failure situations we can put ourselves in with the simulators, we may never see offshore; we hope that we don’t. Being able to prepare for something like that—where you’re not going to sink the simulator – where we can review our actions and our communication process afterward, to me that’s invaluable. I think everyone should experience this.”
A Valuable Tool
Customer feedback on the DWOS℠ custom simulations has also been positive. In the debrief session at the end of the day, one operator manager described it as “the worst day of work in the oilfield I’ve ever had”, in a joking reference to the number and complexity of operational, equipment and weather condition challenges. Another drilling manager was impressed with everyone’s communication skills: “I wanted to see how the Noble team reacts under pressure; how they communicate with each other. It was great to see how some simulations of the actual events put the team under a tremendous amount of stress and pressure and how they react to it, as well as interfacing with our rig supervisors that we have offshore.”
With DWOS℠ custom simulations, operators and contractors work together with simulated rig functions, while experiencing faults, failures, well control, and station-keeping scenarios. This event sets Noble apart as one of the few contractors in the world with the technical expertise and technological capabilities to provide this level of interactivity to our customers. Collaborative simulation furthers Noble’s commitment to deliver the most challenging offshore wells safely and efficiently and this offers our customers the most advanced simulated environment available for learning and collaboration on well delivery. At NobleAdvances, state-of-the-art learning and collaboration advances practices for the industry and develops our people to constantly improve their operational excellence.
Learn more about our training solutions at the NobleAdvances website.