Our Wells Engineers are at the forefront of our projects. In designing, constructing and maintaining wells they’re pushing boundaries at every turn, but more importantly, they’re doing it with safety as the highest priority.

Melissa Morris, Operations Team Lead for Completions and Well Interventions explains: “No matter what part of the company you’re in, no matter where you’re located, [as a Wells Engineer] you’ll have a hand in trying to make our operations safer at every step of the process.”

Safe operations start with a safe design

For Shell Wells Engineers, ensuring safety has several dimensions. It involves being aware of potential risks and being able to manage them appropriately, adhering to high standards and procedures, and looking for and using innovative technology to substantially reduce hazards; literally engineering out the hazard, where possible.

Kim Kurowski, a Wells Engineering Manager says that it’s not enough to execute jobs flawlessly: “It’s about how to keep people safe, identifying potential risks from the start, reducing the hazards, and moving that hazard reduction to very early on in the design stage. This means that when we are in the execution phase we can better focus on technical and performance [issues] and really deliver.”

Reducing the human risk

One way we are applying this approach to safety is through automation, which reduces staff exposure to potential hazards on the rig floor and minimises the risk of human error.

Two examples are Shell’s WellVantage Automation and WellVantage Remote Operations technology, both of which are in operation on projects across the globe. WellVantage Remote Operations enables remote operation and measurement of directional drilling, which not only increases safety and can reduce costs, but enables learning too.

Taking this a step further, WellVantage Automation provides computerised control of drilling equipment at the rig site, minimising human risk while also delivering constant high performance.

A key technology called SCADAdrill is also protecting field staff from potential occupational hazards. By carrying out the drilling process autonomously, staff only need to supervise the ‘machine operating itself’, leaving them far from the potential occupational hazards of manning the equipment.

So far its results have been impressive: some 500,000 feet have been drilled using the SCADAdrill technology, bringing about a quicker drilling process and better cost savings when compared to conventional drilling by humans.

It’s about the people…it’s about the team

This approach to safety is one that underpins everything we do, not just in Wells but also throughout Shell. It’s a challenge that is faced by our engineers every day.

But being constantly challenged is something that is part of what drives our people to reach their full potential.

“Every day when you come in it’s a different challenge,” says Melissa. “We use our multi-discipline teams, our technical experts and our vast resources to figure out what we can do today to make things safer. We want to make sure that people are coming home at night and that what we’re doing adds value.”

Safety is a key concern for everyone at Shell because it aids the protection of the environment and our most valuable asset: our people. Malcolm Jones, General Manager for Well Operations in Tension Leg Platforms, Spars and Platforms explains: “It’s about the people. We have the backdrop of some really excellent projects, but it’s really about the team.”

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