Wellesley Uses On-the-rig Simulator to Cut Drilling Risks


Oil and gas company Wellesley Petroleum earlier this year deployed a mobile ‘On-the-Rig’ (OTR) drilling simulator, to make its drilling crew ready for a drilling project offshore Norway and minimise the risks.

The simulator, designed and manufactured by company Drilling Systems, was used to train Dolphin Drilling’s crews on the semi-submersible drilling rig Borgland Dolphin, ahead of a drilling programme in the North Sea off Norway.

The licence prospect included shallow reservoir conditions, with the target depth of 1,100 meters "almost three times shorter than the usual 3,000 metres for the UK and Norwegian Continental Shelf."

Shallow wells mean drillers have far less reaction time to deal with well control issues, Drilling Systems, a 3t Energy Group company, said.

To minimise the risks, Wellesley worked with Drilling Systems and training partner, Survivex, to configure the On-the-Rig’ (OTR) drilling simulator, with well-specific conditions and drilling scenarios based on the drilling program. This allowed the crew to rehearse possible scenarios before the rig even left the quayside.

The training and well preparation work helped to deliver Wellesley’s lowest-cost well for 2020, coming in on time and on budget with high quality safety performance, Drilling Systems said.

Callum Smyth, Operations Manager at Wellesley, said: “Oil exploration is all about uncertainty and mitigating risks and our latest well posed particular technical challenges. We were dealing with a shallow target and needed to ensure the drilling crews were at the very top of their game to respond quickly to potential well control issues.

“Drilling Systems’ OTR simulator provided a great tool for reducing our risks by enabling the crew to practise drilling scenarios on essentially a realistic, virtual model of the well. As well as training the crew for the specific conditions, this enabled us to test and fine-tune the well programme for maximum effectiveness. This meant the crew went into operations confident and fully prepared for all eventualities.

"In terms of improving safety for the industry this type of on-the-rig training should be rolled out across every rig. We are certainly looking at using the OTR for our next well in 2020."

Morten Haugland, Rig Manager at Dolphin Drilling, said:” Drilling training can be very generic but the OTR equipment allowed us to undergo well specific training on the rig itself during work time... Onboard training also took some of the ‘classroom tension’ away from going to a training centre. It was an extremely worthwhile project and something we would certainly consider again.”

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