Such events are included in the assessment of the major accident potential on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). The biggest challenge in drilling and well operations is the loss of well control which could, in the worst case, result in a hydrocarbon blowout.
Despite the long-running attention paid to this issue by both companies and government, the risk contribution from well incidents on the NCS still needs to be reduced. As part of the RNNP 2022 process, therefore, the Petroleum Safety Authority Norway (PSA) conducted an in-depth study to analyse and acquire better understanding of causes and possible measures related to such events.
This work was a continuation of a corresponding study carried out in connection with the RNNP 2011 process after the PSA had observed a negative trend in reported well-control incidents during 2010.
The new in-depth study has identified a number of conditions which could have given rise to changes and greater complexity in drilling processes – such as more complex well paths, challenging sub-surface conditions, more advanced drilling targets, and organisational and technological changes. Such factors are discussed in the report and form the basis for identifying the following four main challenges and improvement areas.
- A need for better well-control expertise and improvements in well-control training to relate this more closely to conditions on the NCS.
- A need for better processes to learn lessons from and transfer experience after incidents.
- A need for further development of processes to handle overall risk related to drilling and well operations, particularly for dealing with uncertainty over pore pressure and knowledge about sub-surface conditions when drilling.
- Need to pay more attention to change management, particularly in connection with restructuring.
The PSA will communicate the results from and challenges identified by the study in various fora, and follow up how the industry establishes measures which could meet the challenges in a positive way. In addition, the results will be viewed in relation to the PSA’s improvement work related to investigations and learning from serious incidents.