Training simulations could help fill the talent gap/
Training is imperative to the upstream oil and gas sector—drilling operations are complicated, and untrained workers can cause operation downtime, hazardous accidents and could ultimately cost the operator money by slowing production and efficiency.
“It can be a difficult industry to learn,” says Gavin Ames, vice president of strategy and development at 3T Energy Group. “With simulations, companies can define the way they want their crews to learn and upskill themselves.”
Simulators range from uncomplicated, portable units to fully immersive simulators designed for a class full of people. Some training programs involve virtual reality, placing trainees in different situations and allowing them to interact with their surroundings without risking safety.
“People can replicate the rig environment, the rig floor, run emergency scenarios, and operators can check competency and upskill their workforce in a safe classroom environment,” Ames adds. “It means that you can make mistakes in the virtual world that you wouldn’t want to make in the real world.”
He says workers have traditionally learned through experience, which “can obviously take a long time, and sometimes if you learn through experience you may not learn the right way.”
For the energy industry, which has a wide talent gap, time is an important factor. In the Middle East, finding quick and efficient ways to train local workers is a key consideration as Gulf countries look to develop their local energy infrastructure and to localise their workforce.
“I think it has been a tough period in the oil and gas industry, the oil price has been low, but we’re seeing recovery in oil prices and more and more rigs going to work,” he says. “We are also seeing localisation initiatives, where companies want to have a local workforce, local crews, and simulation training is a very important part of that, where you can upskill a local workforce and fast track their deployment onto the work site.”
In energy production, there is a delicate balance between speed (or efficiency) and safety. By running disaster and general training simulations, workers could be better prepared for the reality of working on site.
But Ames says simulations are also geared towards existing workers in the industry, with the aim of “upskilling” them and increasing their competency in the field. Portable simulators can be kept on site for crews to train themselves without halting their work.
“…COMPANIES WANT TO HAVE A LOCAL WORKFORCE, LOCAL CREWS, AND SIMULATION TRAINING IS A VERY IMPORTANT PART OF THAT, WHERE YOU CAN UPSKILL A LOCAL WORKFORCE AND FAST TRACK THEIR DEPLOYMENT ONTO THE WORK SITE.”
Virtual reality is a prominent technology for training