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Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program: Oilfield Workforce of the Future

Posting Date: 
Friday, May 4, 2018

Smarter, safer, and more environmentally savvy than ever

The dynamic economy of Texas is intertwined with the energy industry and the many business enterprises that support it. Trends are driven by many factors, not the least of which are prices for crude oil and natural gas. The oil and gas industry has seen cycles of growth and contraction as these commodity prices fluctuate over time. Hydraulic fracturing and other advances in drilling technology have enabled production of tremendous domestic fossil energy resources from shale and tight rock in many regions across the US. However, as oil prices have declined, so has drilling, along with the fates of the oilfield workers and service providers. All sectors of the petroleum industry are doing more with less in order to control costs, taking ever more austere measures to maintain productivity. This means drilling and producing more oil and gas with fewer rigs, fewer workers, and smaller budgets. Advanced technologies and training are essential for success in such an economic environment.

The modern oilfield relies upon automation, telemetry, data science, and a workforce that can utilize these tools in safer, smarter, and more efficient operations. In Texas and elsewhere, the petroleum workforce of the future will need new skills to effectively take advantage of these technologies. Training is essential so that workers can develop skills in digital-based systems, sophisticated sensors, and advanced analytics. Proficiency in data science will bring forth better models for predicting various aspects of operation and maintenance. Training related to safety, critical thinking and personal accountability will always be needed.

Workforce development has long been a key area of focus for HARC’s Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program (EFD). With resources such as the EFD Virtual Site, workers and the public can learn about oilfield operations in a virtual environment. EFD Director, Dr. Rich Haut, has an active role in working with industry, environmental groups, and regulatory authorities to understand the challenges and opportunities for training tomorrow’s workforce.