Company Integrates Human Factors Into Corporate Well-Control Manual

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Many of the worst oilfield incidents have been attributable to human factors. Consequently, a corporate well-control manual was refreshed to include human factors in the management of well-control incidents. This required mapping the well-control process, assigning specific roles to personnel, and defining contingencies while acknowledging the effect human factors have on the personnel involved. The intention was not to create a rigid structure but rather to provide a framework to guide the front line in dealing with a well-control event.


The corporate well-control manual was updated to introduce human factors and consolidate a number of improvements. Numerous references were consulted, including other industry well-control documents, trade publications, and academic papers.

“Human factors” refers to technological, organizational, and job factors, as well as human and individual characteristics that affect how people perform a job. It includes the competence and behavior of personnel, the design and functionality of equipment, and organizational structure and support.

Why was it necessary to include human factors in something as fundamental as a well-control manual? Many diverse challenges are faced in well control, often involving multiple complex interfaces in a high-stress environment. Frequently, the problem is not fully understood, either. The challenges of decision making in such a pressured environment have been recognized in other industries, and they share many similar features.

The recognition in the drilling industry to include human-factors mitigation into emergency management and, specifically, well control was one of the outcomes of the Macondo disaster. Recognizing the importance of this, a Human Factors Task Force was established to identify improvements related to human factors and their contribution to such incidents. Training- and competence-assurance guidelines were issued, and objectives were set to provide a step change.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 184648, “Integrating Human Factors Into Well Control,” by Jacob Odgaard, SPE, and Tim Morton, SPE, Maersk Drilling, prepared for the 2017 SPE/IADC Drilling Conference and Exhibition, The Hague, 14–16 March. The paper has not been peer reviewed.
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Company Integrates Human Factors Into Corporate Well-Control Manual

01 August 2017

Volume: 69 | Issue: 8