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Member Research and Reports

Member Research and Reports

Texas A&M: Researchers Investigate Offshore Oil Drilling Operator Situation Awareness

Drs. Camille Peres, and Ranjana Mehta, Texas A&M and Dr. Eric van Oort, from the University of Texas researched operator situation awareness and performance in various oil drilling scenarios. The study in the Journal of Loss Prevention in the Process Industries used a drilling hardware simulator to safely run senior-level petroleum engineering students through a series of drilling scenarios and monitor their situation awareness (SA) and related physiological characteristics.

They measured subject SA using the SA Rating Technique, a survey that evaluates attention, concentration & task complexity and collected heart rate data. The subjects ran through drilling scenarios in the simulator while being monitored for performance involving tripping (inserting or removing pipe) and drilling (making the wellbore deeper). Scenarios were either without failures or featured a failure where underground pressure is greater than wellbore pressure.

Participants were more accurate when handling loss of circulation failures and had the same levels of accuracy for tripping and drilling tasks. In contrast, there was a difference in reaction time between tripping and drilling tasks, with operators taking longer to respond to drilling failures.

The participants reported lower SA scores during failure scenarios. Heart rate data showed no statistically significant differences between failure and non-failure scenarios perhaps due to the  short duration of the scenarios. There were notable differences in heart rate variability between tripping and drilling tasks for non-failure scenarios, which could reflect differences in the complexity of the work involved.

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