Recommendation 5.3c: A research process is needed for establishing standardized requirements for education, training, and certification of everyone working on an offshore drilling rig. Additional standardized requirements should be established for education, training, and certification of key drilling-related personnel working offshore and onshore.

Specific education for drilling operations, especially offshore drilling, is lacking. There are a variety of related engineering disciplines such as petroleum, mechanical, chemical, and industrial engineering, but only a few programs offer introductory courses in drilling. Therefore, individuals receive training in drilling engineering through programs designed within a company, which generally include some type of apprenticeship program providing drilling experience under the oversight of experienced drilling personnel. Offshore drilling engineering tends to rely on principles developed for onshore operations while gaining experience from offshore operations. Some offshore drilling engineers working for contractors change roles and work for operators.

Drilling personnel come from all walks of life. They usually start in the onshore drilling industry, learning by experience with hardly any formal education in key areas such as the overall drilling system, geology, fluid flow, and chemistry. Offshore drilling personnel can be recruited from a variety of institutions and organizations, including technical schools and general colleges, and from those with specialized naval backgrounds. Few recruits are likely to have even a fundamental understanding of the overall drilling system and the environment into which the system is deployed. Training is mostly done by contractors and is focused on a specific job. There are commercial organizations that provide required training, such as for well control and survival (e.g., helicopter underwater egress training), but little else. Different companies have training and career paths that vary greatly. There are few industry standards for the level of education and training required for a particular job in drilling.

Incident Reporting Systems

Summary Recommendation 5.4: Industry and regulators should improve corporate and industrywide systems for reporting safety-related incidents. Reporting should be facilitated by enabling anonymous or “safety privileged” inputs. Corporations should investigate all such reports and disseminate their lessons-learned findings in a timely manner to all their operating and decision-making personnel and to the industry as a whole. A comprehensive lessons-learned repository should be maintained for industrywide use. This information can be used for training in accident prevention and continually improving standards.14


14 This recommendation is also presented in Chapter 6 as Recommendation 6.14.

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