Learning to Drive in the Energy Industry

by Bob Curtis on September 25, 2013

When we’re training a child to ride a bicycle, there are some risks. The child could fall down and scrape his or her knees. That could have been a metaphor for the energy industry 30 years ago. Now, we’re not only in a car, we’re in a Ferrari. You’re not going to let a 16-year-old get behind the wheel of your Ferrari without very extensive training, are you?

We can apply this thinking to drilling a 20,000 foot hole off shore into the ground in a remote location. It’s no easy task. Anyone who does not believe this is high-risk work clearly does not have a full understanding of what it entails. To that end, safety is the priority issue and concern in the energy industry, which has caused companies to reevaluate their training programs and protocols.

Disasters in this field have been drivers of change for increased safety and compliance. Of course, when things do go wrong, industry leaders are eager to determine what happened and how they can prevent them from happening again. These investigations result in tightened regulations, modifications to hardware and training to ensure higher levels of safety.  Because companies must evolve accordingly, the industry becomes better for it, and all of us can move forward in a much safer environment.

As the stakes get higher, the challenges become more complex and training becomes critically important.

That’s where our knowledge of high-consequence training comes in. It makes perfect sense that our organization – which trains fighter pilots, drone pilots, air traffic controllers, and high-level cyber-security professionals – would be ready to take on the energy industry’s toughest training challenges. Our resources can help the industry become safer and significantly more efficient. We aren’t reinventing the wheel. Our tested and proven strategies can deliver significant and measureable results in the natural resources industry.

New technology is constantly entering this field—making processes safer and more efficient, but precise training is essential. How do we approach this new technology? Here are a couple examples.

Simulator Skills

  • In the Gulf of Mexico, new regulations are in effect for ROV Pilots. They are now required to be trained in simulators, just like aviation pilots. Previous training was a familiarization. Now they are trained on a simulator, so they can effectively work with their panel and master it.

Neutral Buoyancy Lab

  • Our Neutral Buoyancy Lab is a unique, cost-saving asset.  It gives us the capacities to do simulation work and physical system integration testing (SIT). To achieve this, major energy companies have to gather boats and equipment— and put them in several hundred feet of water. It’s a significantly less efficient process, and quite frankly, there’s much more that can go wrong.

As we become more advanced, the risks increase. It’s our job to minimize those risks. Our expertise in high-consequence training has given us the tools we need to tackle this task.  What are your biggest training challenges?

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