Knowing the drill

With over 30 years’experience in the oil industry, Norwegian Drilling Academy AS –Nortrain, is the largest training centre in Norway specialising in drilling and well intervention.

The courses that it provides cover a range of related areas, such as well control certification, HP/HT – high pressure and high temperature courses, and different subsea and deepwater drilling courses.

Because Norway is one of the few countries in the world to enforce mandatory training for offshore work, the company plans to bring this same high level of training to other countries across the globe. Jens Olav Flobak, managing director of Nortrain, explains how: “We started up basic training in India for drilling personnel last year, and now we are doing the same in Ghana. In other countries such as Russia and Brazil we will have activities starting up in 2009 and 2010. The training of drilling personnel is in accordance with the mandatory training in Norway, and it is two different levels of training. One basic course for positions up to operator and derrickman, and the next level is for driller and supervisor. The training is covering both drilling personnel and well service personnel, and allows the possibility of training students from a basic level and all the way up to the top.”

He adds: “We are developing our students based on the Norwegian system, which again, is unique to everywhere else. In Norway our system operates not on a four weeks on, four weeks off basis, but instead works on a two weeks on, four weeks off regime. The benefits in this method lie in the fact that we can carry out extensive training in the off period. Oil companies in other countries often deliver their training on-the-job, which means that they cannot always expect a high success rate of developing reliable staff. The fact that we fully train our students before they are even hired guarantees that they will know how to fulfil the role upon employment.”

One of the most important factors in the success of Nortrain is that it looks to employ staff with both practical and theoretical experience, as opposed to just lecturers. Jens elaborates: “The most important thing is that we maintain a high quality in our training, and this is something we achieve by hiring good instructors and trainers with a technical background in their education. For instance, in Norway, we have only employed petroleum engineers, and any additional experience needed comes through hiring drilling supervisors. We focus on having personnel who are not simply educated as teachers, but also know exactly what they are talking about through their practical, hands-on experience.”

There are, of course, many challenges that Nortrain faces in order to carry out its operations in such a manner. Jens highlights some of the problems that the company has needed to overcome in recent times: “Finding instructors with both theoretical and practical experience is difficult, and we often have to train our own teachers. It is also difficult to find instructors outside of Norway who are adept in the field, and so looking for the right people in the local area in countries such as India is quite difficult. However, once we locate them, we ensure that they meet our standards by running courses for them by our own international instructors. Of course this is more expensive and time consuming but it enables us to maintain the same quality of teaching worldwide.”

Nortrain stands out from its counterparts in the industry who come mainly in the form of university-based courses throughout the country. Jens explains why Nortrain holds the advantage over its competitors: “It is very seldom that courses in Norway offer the chance for getting experience on a drilling rig first-off, unlike with us. Most of them offer only onshore experience with drilling companies, and so we offer so much more to our students and we aim for an internationally acclaimed standard.”

The company is also renowned for promoting more modern methods of teaching, one of which is through an extensive e-learning system that has been developed over the past few years. Jens talks about how this system works, and its benefits: “We carry out our e-learning on different levels, to focus on specified well control certification. There are massive advantages in providing this technology in terms of aiding our international markets, as it means that students abroad don’t necessarily need to travel to training centres in other countries just to do the course. Instead they can do the training at home via a computer, and then visit a local test centre to carry out the exam. In the technical school most of the training manuals are also available online and so we are very keen to promote an e-learning system if it adds convenience for our students.”

Jens is always looking to the future, and he believes the company is in a strong position to progress to new heights in the coming years. He concludes: “In the next three to five years we expect to have activity in five or six different countries, and we are always looking to spot new markets around the world in countries that have not yet received full penetration, such as Africa or Vietnam. We also hope to have turned our operations in Norway into a fully privatised engineering school in this time frame.”


Services: Offshore drilling training school