December 13, 2011
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Home / Issue Archive / 2011 / October #10 / "Keys" to Success. Inside Schlumberger's Abu Dhabi Training Center

№ 10 (October 2011)

"Keys" to Success. Inside Schlumberger's Abu Dhabi Training Center

   To speak about Schlumberger as of recognized world leader in oilfield technology, it is important to remember who and how created and developed those technologies. Schlumberger takes very seriously the processes of personnel training and development.

By Victor Lyashkov, Service Quality Engineer in Houston Conveyance and Surface Equipment, Schlumberger

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   Company with almost 100-years history has its own system for selection and training of the most talented new-hires and provides opportunities for personnel growing and development into world-class technical specialists. Also, there is a very clear structured career development path (SCDP).  

   One of the most important elements in the system for development of oil and gas industry professionals is a relatively young Middle East Learning Center, located near Abu Dhabi, the capital of United Arab Emirates.

   Few months ago, MLC just met its fourth anniversary.  More than 100 qualified teaching specialists work in the MLC: instructors, senior instructors and training managers in each service segment, support team and Learning Center manager. Up to 600 students from all over the world study in the MLC daily. Often, almost every week, many different major oil operators’ representatives from different countries visit the Learning Center for different reasons, such as: attending to specialized technical training courses, meetings, getting  to know how the training process is organized.

   The Middle East Learning Center is not the only training center that Schlumberger has, and there are few of them in Europe, Russia and in the U.S. All these centers are well-known in oil industry and have their own history and legacy. But the MLC is quite unique. During its design, construction and furnishing the experience of its “elder colleagues” – the centers in the U.S. and Europe – was used. In fact,  the MLC is a big complex of offices, lecture rooms, spacious workshops with new tools and equipment, full copies of wellsite pads with wells “fit-for-purpose”, and depends on requirements by specific service. The MLC complex was built on the highest quality standards. It has its own hotel,  which can accommodate up to 480 students. Also, the MLC has a reconstructed copy of WesternGeco marine seismic vessel with a water pool up to 12 meters deep for training purposes with the function of real time sea-bed data acquisition. At the MLC, most of conventional and new technologies in different oilfield services have been introduced that Schlumberger provides worldwide in wireline (REW), workover, all types of drilling, hydraulic formation fracturing, operations with coiled tubing, cementing services, artificial lift , well testing and some more. The company is very dynamic so in the nearest future, the MLC plans to include into the  training process  foam cement pumping and catenary systems in coiled tubing operations. This was made possible thanks to  big investments of nearly $350 million.

   Who are the students? Typically, all of them are selected by recruiting department – graduate engineers of colleges and universities from different countries. Students  are sent to the Learning Center from oilfield locations only after successful passing of an on-line entrance exam. Even the minimum passing score of the entrance exam, finalizing a pre-school training, is 75-80 percent for all test topics; in general, the training process focuses on helping students achieve maximum possible result with highest possible score. From their mentor on location attendees of courses already know the essentials of current training system at the Learning Center. Schlumberger provides a vast spectrum of services worldwide, and each of services at the MLC  is quite specific in terms of the way for providing technical courses. Training processes are built on business-oriented specific courses and topics, with specific timetables and training programs. The MLC students could be beginners with only few months of seniority and short pre-school or experienced professionals expanding level of knowledge as specialists (if so in one service) and generalists (if so in cross-segment training). Courses duration is also vary from one week to three months. All courses for beginners (Level 1) consist of practical training with hands-on training where practical sessions/exercises take no less than 50 percent of the overall courses’ timeline.  The number of students  at each course may also depend on service and vary from three to  up to 30 students.

   At the MLC, the Coiled Tubing Service is one of the most rapidly and continuously developing segments. Effectiveness, unique features and safe reliable operations of coiled tubing services are well-proven over time. Quite often some type of operations and services may be performed only with CT technologies, such as complex operations on highly deviated and horizontal live wells in combined treatments and real-time acquisition , well killing, flow-backing and kicking-offs, etc.

   The coiled tubing unit itself represents quite a complex equipment, where the main source of power is a hydraulic one. To improve the reliability of all CT unit components during the job execution, MLC plans for training of engineers and supervisors included a Basic Hydraulics training module with hands-on lab works and troubleshooting to identify the causes of element’s failure. Such course is absolutely essential in process of proper operation and maintenance of CT units on locations. Proper operation and maintenance of CT unit is especially important as units worked under extreme climate conditions of the U.S., Russia, UAE, Canada, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and other countries with similar environment. Currently all hydraulic modules in CT unit linked with electronics systems. Obviously the role of electronics increased drastically over last years and most of safety systems controlled by electronic systems. According to internal rules in Schlumberger, one of essential requirement is to have data acquisition and recording system running on location, during Coiled Tubing operations. The CoilCAT Integrated System* used for those purposes and installed on all CT units, nevertheless on country and operational conditions. On the main screen could be displayed up to 12 measuring and calculating parameters, depends on choice of Job Supervisor, Engineer or Client representative. The number of displayed parameters can be extended on additional screen and could be up to 50: CT weight, Circulating and Wellhead pressures, Annular pressures, CT speed, CT pipe conditions, voltage of on board battery etc.  Especially valuable are features of CoilCAT* of not only to display reading parameter, but has function of comparison with designed parameter.  Such features to display trends on graphs significantly improve overall safety of job execution so Engineer or Job Supervisor can compare theoretical, calculated plots on same screen and overlay real time graph to find threat on earlier stages. One more feature of CT units of Schlumberger compare to other companies – presence of CoilSAVER* system. That is electric-over-hydraulics system of monitoring current CT pipe parameters and to keep them within limits. If one of them will exceed pre-set limit then CT pipe movement will be automatically instantly stopped. Combination of hardware and software in a CoilSAVER* system helps to Coiled Tubing unit operator avoid damage of CT pipe. CoilSAVER* is absolutely essential in prevention of overpulls and kicking accidents on CT pipe. Electronics hardware modules installed on CT unit may include more than 10 programmable modules linked into the system, working on reliable communication protocols, wired or wireless. Such systems require qualified personnel with specific level of knowledge in IT. That’s why in main course of  engineers and supervisors included training module with elements of basic electronics and basics of computer networking. Successful pass in all training modules, including CoilCAT* Electronics of CTU, is essential conditions to be certified as technical specialist for Coiled Tubing service.

   Practical trainings in MLC takes special place in whole training process so during those lessons students acquiring and improving skills of CTU operation, what to do in Contingency (Runaway In or Out of Hole, failure of most hydraulic systems, ability to use back up equipment , simulation of power pack failure – tens of different combinations). For those purposes two real CT units coexist with two additional simulators, hydraulic and electronic. Portion of the practical lessons is over 50 percent of training course time, where only CTU operations takes three weeks. Three-week practicals finalizing by qualification tests – on real CT unit and on both simulators. All practical lessons provided under conditions with maximum reconstruction of real oilfield conditions, comprising simulation of failure in some Coiled Tubing unit modules. In strict accordance with Well Services Safety Standards training personnel developed case-specific flowcharts for CT Contingency operations. Due to real danger of some failures, many of potential failures cannot be reproduced in real life, so the only Learning Center is right place to simulate such cases and let opportunity for Engineers and Supervisors to improve skills in Contingency. That’s why simulators play important role in training process of CT specialists.

   I would say that in Learning Center during training process all instructors pay attention not to only importance of theory and practicals, but also to psychological resistance of students in case of Contingency and stress managing. During practicals on simulators and CTU instructors revealing weak points and developing recommendations for individuals what and how to improve. Statistics of selection for pilots says that only one trainee may be chosen from 700 candidates. I am quite sure that the numbers in statistics in overall process for engineers and supervisors in recruiting-to-specialist cycle are very similar with pilot’s selection statistic. Just imagine that about 40 gauges in CTU, about 20 additional parameters and graphs plus CT crew – all of this supervisor or engineer has to control precisely within 12 hours, days and nights, in difficult climate conditions. Obviously, not everyone able to keep so high level of concentration.

   Due to very limited timeline of the course, students facing massive of information. So for them just at this point coming understanding importance of prioritizing activities: ability to proper time management, concentration to achieve good result first time (what we call “Excellence in Execution”), understanding the importance of team work and ability to find own place and role in that team, where all efforts towards to final team’s result.

   Few words I would say about new-generation CT units – X11. Clearly understanding all difficulties and specifics of work on CT unit, management took decision few years ago to produce next generation CTU, utilizing all accumulated experience and engineering potential. In that type of CTU most of the routine operations controlling by “smart” electronics: conditions of all hydraulic and mechanical systems, CT weight and pipe movement control, all brake systems, spooling operations, control of hydraulic oil leaks , Blowout Preventers control, many more. Taking care and controlling routing operations on CTU, electronics “releases” CT operator, supervisor or field engineer to focus on well conditions to address each step of job execution on changes in well bore, related to specific treatment. There are about 20 of X-11 “electronic” coiled tubing units, and now they work in different countries on offshore platforms where cost of error is extremely high. Middle East & Asia Learning Center also has one of X-11 advance CT unit for specialized training courses. Proper operation of X-11 advanced CT unit requires deeper level of knowledge as basic trainings provided at Level 1 CT courses is not enough.  That’s why there were developed and provided specialized trainings for supervisors, CT operators, engineers and maintenance specialists.

    Often for some advanced technical courses MLC inviting of international experts, usually from the UK and the U.S.

   Our сompany is very dynamic in term of improvement. To evaluate and address all strong and weak points of training provided to students after course, there is a mandatory feedback questionnaire from each student with evaluation score for quality of each training topic.

   Due to massive information study facing on the course, high load, inability to manage stress and different graduate systems, not all students capable to succeed in the course. It may be 100 percent of successfully trained and certified students, but it also could be few students who failed course at some stage.
On completion of the courses ex-students will work in different positions: some will continue to work and improve technical aspects and develop new technologies, another may become a part of management, others – to work as sales staff.

   No matter what and where ex-students do, we are working in same team, where final results are depends on each team member. And we have same priorities – safety and highest possible professionalism. That’s what we call – Excellence in Execution.

   In conclusion I just wanting to say, that similar to MLC training Center already situated in close distance to Tyumen, about 30 kilometers away. That is big complex of building with administrative, lecture and offices rooms, ultra-modern gym, few drilled wells, workshops, well pads and allocated areas to improve driving skills. International training staff of professionals, standard training system and processes approved in Schlumberger, quiet from urban noise and urban rush location – all of that creates very comfortable for study environment, where students may focus on achievement of highest possible results and become recognized worldwide technical specialists. Attending to courses students coming from all around the world countries, but main focus is on Russian-speaking young specialists, who do not have strong English knowledge yet. So periodically you can find in Training Center schedule special courses in Russian. For that reason Siberian Training Center periodically invites Russian-speaking instructors from abroad, with international experience. Even few years ago it was not possible. Another advantage of located in Tyumen Training Center – no need to acquire visa, neither spend time and other resources to send students outside of Russia. At the end also I would mention, that apart of many more new service companies appeared in oilfield industry in Russia last years, Schlumberger leads business on long-term basement. And that is one more time proven by huge CAPEX into the brand new, built-for-purpose Siberian Training Center (STC).

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