Borgland Dolphin; Source: Drilling Systems Dolphin Drilling Wellesley

Wellesley uses on-the-rig simulator to reduce exploration risks

Oil and gas company Wellesley Petroleum has commissioned a mobile on-the-rig (OTR) drilling simulator to train Dolphin Drilling’s crews on the Borgland Dolphin ahead of its drilling programme in the Norwegian North Sea earlier this year.

Borgland Dolphin; Source: Drilling Systems

Wellesley said on Wednesday that the simulator, designed and manufactured by Drilling Systems, assisted in drilling of a license prospect with the target depth of 1,100 metres which is almost three times shorter than the usual 3,000 metres for the UK and Norwegian Continental Shelf.

The company added that drillers have far less reaction time to deal with well control issues in shallow wells.

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

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

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. 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”.

Drilling Systems is part of the 3t Energy Group, which is the UK’s largest energy sector training provider and includes leading training providers, AIS Training and Survivex and technology company 3t Transform.

Clive Battisby, head of simulation at 3t Energy Group, added: “On-the-rig simulator training offers is extremely nimble and flexible solution. It helps crews stay fresh, sharp, focused and aware and this in turn leads to greater efficiency and effectiveness in the field.

We are delighted to hear that our simulator worked well for Wellesley and Dolphin Drilling and their experience shows how valuable drilling the well on a simulator beforehand can be to the final operation.

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.

Our team was very engaged by the training process and having everyone involved – even junior members of the team – meant we could share ideas and experiences which really benefitted the entire team”.

To remind, Wellesley Petroleum hired the Borgland Dolphin under a two-well contract with an option for two more wells in late April.

Wellesley drilled a dry well with the rig north of the Gjøa field offshore Norway in September. The well in question was wildcat well 6204/11-3 in production licence 829 in the Norwegian Sea.