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Skill builder

Published by , Senior Editor
Hydrocarbon Engineering,

With oil and gas production on the rise in the Caspian Sea, the need for skilled personnel remains high. Specialized Petroleum Technologies LLC (SPT) together with GSE Solutions (GSE) have been providing forward-looking training products and services to the Caspian region.

Director of SPT (USA), Teymur Gurbanov, explains: “We start by working to recognise what the business challenges are and the complexity of the current issue before we ever think of offering one of our products or building something new. This step is about determining better paths for client’s business and developing best-in-class product solutions.”

In 2014, Mr Gurbanov and SPT deployed this methodology at Kasipkor Holding’s Atyrau Petroleum Education Center. SPT’s approach uses virtual technologies for hands-on training.

Atyrau Petroleum Education Center is an interregional center for training and continuing education in the oil and gas industry. Before redesigning the training programme, SPT and GSE surveyed both the center’s educational processes and industry needs, recognising an opportunity to use simulations for cost-effective learning.

SPT’s Director, favouring innovations and progressive ideas, has wide experience in covering Caspian Region oil and gas companies and educational structures with innovative virtual technologies, simulators and distance learning. Mr Gurbanov leveraged his managerial skills and technical expertise to bring together a variety of technology companies and services.

The resulting training programme included a combination of fundamental sciences, process controls and other oil and gas technologies taught with computer-based tutorials, 2D and 3D visualisation of key equipment for oil production and refining, as well as exercise guides and comprehensive documentation. Specific tutorials and simulators started with process equipment fundamentals applicable across a variety of industries. These included process controls, boilers, compressors, furnaces, and pumps. The content progressed to more complex refining processes such as alkylation, amine treating, crude distillation, fluid catalytic cracking, reformers, sulfur recovery and delayed coking/visbreaking.

The first year of the training programme attracted 145 students for a single module titled “Introduction to the Specialty”. 75% of those who completed the programme went directly to jobs in the oil and gas industry – in the Caspian region and internationally. Today, the center has nearly 900 students majoring in five disciplines in connection with the oil and gas refining industry and supply chain. The average work placement of graduates is 90%.

The training approach is to ensure the student has a strong foundation in the fundamentals that will apply across various jobs in the industry. E-learning tutorials provide the fundamental information using animation, graphics text and voice-over to capture a wide variety of learning styles. These tutorials have been shown to increase retention rates and help students get through as much as five times the amount of material in a training session. When simulations are used as part of that training (experimental learning), students gain confidence, are better able to navigate multiple outcomes, and retain up to 90% of what they learn. Simulations enable the students to practice the concepts taught in the tutorials, and experiment with a variety of plant conditions to get a better understanding of cause and effect and the timing associations with the propagation of transients. All of this is supported with interactive 3D content to explore the inner workings of equipment and processes.

The move to use virtual technologies in oil and gas training proved to be prognostic. The oil and gas industry has since undergone a digital transformation and the training methods that were so new in 2014 are now widely accepted best practices. As COVID-19 and social distancing continues to impact refineries, virtual technologies have again risen in prominence. Simulators and online programs are being used almost exclusively to train and re-train the critical skill sets needed for effective, efficient, and safe operations.

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