Geometrically complex and horizontal wells are constructed to deliver additional production with fewer environmental effects. The continuous success with which we are able to drill, complete, operate, and maintain wells having demanding profiles positioned for stronger reservoir performance is the result of service companies, drilling companies, operators, and technical institutions developing ever-more-advanced and -reliable technology. As new technologies are put to work, new techniques are developed to reduce operational risk, increase payback, and improve efficiency, thereby pushing the boundaries of what previously was considered technically improbable to achieve or uneconomical. As a result, higher-value wells are constructed. Development of these new technologies and techniques continues, but none of this is possible without technically competent experienced people.

Well-construction activity has ramped up over the past 2 years. This activity ramp is occurring simultaneously in established areas and “frontier” locations that are remote from upstream infrastructure or are lacking local expertise. As a result, it is challenging to ensure that complex wells gain the focus of the most-experienced technical personnel to deliver acceptable performance consistently. While remote operating centers alleviate some of this challenge, the need for technical training and competency development probably has never been greater than it is today. However, the opportunities to achieve this have never been greater.

Every well we construct and operate presents on-the-job-training and competency-development opportunities. We should make greater efforts in identifying these opportunities and in committing to exploiting them. This should be more widely recognized at the planning phase by documenting training opportunities as key well objectives. Achieving these objectives would enhance the value delivered from each well.

It is only by focusing on development of people, existing and new to our industry, that the boundaries of horizontal and complex wells will continue to expand, adding production with fewer environmental effects. This must persist irrespective of the business cycle because while there are efficient methods of attaining technical proficiency by commitment to well-structured programs, there are no shortcuts.

Read the paper synopses in the November 2011 issue of JPT.

Jon Ruszka, SPE, is Field Career Development Manager, Baker Hughes Africa Region. He has more than 25 years’ industry experience in various technical, operational, and marketing positions, primarily focused on the application and advancement of directional-drilling technology and techniques. Ruszka earned a BSc Honours degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Bristol and a post-graduate diploma with distinction in offshore engineering from Robert Gordon Institute of Technology, Aberdeen. He has authored and presented several SPE papers and serves on the IADC/SPE Drilling Conference & Exhibition Organizing Committee and the JPT Editorial Committee.