SPE logo

Getting to Grips with Human Factors in Drilling Operations

1–3 October 2014

London, United Kingdom | Park Plaza Victoria Hotel

About this Workshop


Since the events on Montara in late 2009 and Macondo in 2010, the exploration and production industry has undergone substantial change in culture and regulation. There has been a growing awareness of the human contribution to catastrophic and process safety events and the subsequent need to strengthen organisational defences against these weaknesses. Practices in the upstream industry can be compared with those in other high-hazard industries, especially aviation and nuclear power production, resulting in the conclusion that attention to the human factor is conspicuous by its absence, particularly at a pan-organisational level.

This lack of awareness of human factors is also evidenced by the continuing emphasis in incident investigations in the oil and gas sector on technological and managerial deficiencies rather than probing deeper into human errors. Organisations, such as OGP, have published reports on the cognitive and psychological aspects of safe operations in high-hazard industries (OGP 460, 2012) but where integration of the human factor has been addressed, this tends to be in pockets within individual organisations. Often it is in the operations/production domain where human factors have been introduced, but there is less evidence in drilling.

Therefore, the purpose of this workshop is to define and clarify the underlying ideas about human factors related to the drilling community, and to offer practical tools and insights that can be taken away and applied in day-to-day activities in the work place.

Participants in the workshop will have the opportunity to:

  • Learn about the key psychological principles that underlie how people make decisions and how they deal with dynamic and potentially stressful situations, how organisations can “drift” into failure without noticing it, and about the non-technical skills that can be used to counter these effects
  • Listen to and question speakers who will present case studies of how human factors are applied in actual drilling situations, how human factors can be identified during incident investigation, and how people and teams can be trained to enhance their non-technical skills to overcome our natural biases
  • Discuss the concepts through a series of practical exercises, and round-table discussions

Who Should Attend

The target audience for the workshop is:

  • Operations staff in the chain of command in oil companies responsible for drilling operations (onshore or offshore)
  • Operations staff in decision-support/decision-making roles in service companies and drilling contractors
  • Personnel involved in real-time operations
  • HSE professionals involved in drilling operations and associated incident investigations
  • Industry training organisations, consultancies, and academic institutions dealing with human factors in the industry
  • Members of the SPE Human Factors Technical Section

Workshop Guidelines

Workshops maximise the exchange of ideas among attendees and presenters through brief technical presentations followed by extended Q&A periods. Focused topics attract an informed audience eager to discuss issues critical to advancing both technology and best practices.

Many of the presentations are in the form of case studies, highlighting engineering achievements and lessons learned. In order to stimulate frank discussion, no proceedings are published and members of the press are not invited to attend.


Two-and-a-half days of informal sessions, with a number of short presentations, breakout discussions, an evening welcome reception and dinner on Wednesday, 1 October 2014. Full details will be provided with the registration pack, which will be sent one month before the workshop.


All attendees will receive a certificate from SPE attesting to their participation.

Continuing Education Units

The workshop qualifies for SPE Continuing Education Units (CEU), at the rate of 0.1 CEU per hour of the workshop.

Scribe's Report

The steering committee will appoint a scribe to make a full report of the workshop, summarising all presentations and discussion. This report will be circulated to all attendees. The copyright of the scribe’s report will belong to SPE.

Poster Presenter Opportunities

SPE welcomes posters at this event. If you would like to display a poster and share your expertise with the attendees of this workshop, please submit a brief description of your proposed topic upon registration.

There is no dedicated poster session in this workshop, instead posters will be displayed throughout.