Monthly eNewsletter from the IADC

Well Integrity Author Keeps on with Tradition of Training Next Generation

It all started when Les Skinner raised his hand to volunteer. Not to write a book. (Although, that would come much later.) No, Les Skinner raised his hand on the first day of work with Amoco Production Company almost 50 years ago when a gray-haired supervisor if anyone knew about working on a drilling rig.

Having grown up in the Panhandle (Brown Dolomite) Field, a reservoir that stretches from New Mexico to Oklahoma across the Texas Panhandle, Les raised his hand. He was used to the oilfields, used to all the sights, smells, and sounds of drilling rigs and refineries.

“Great! You’re a drilling engineer now,” his boss told him.

Fresh out of Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering, Les’s initial plan to work in a gasoline plants. He had previously interned at Texaco in Midland, Texas, in gasoline plants. Instead, his plans were immediately altered.

Little did Les know that his altered plans would take him all over the world.

Not His First Rodeo

“Life is funny in how quickly it passes you by. As I switched titles from husband to father to grandpa, from drilling engineer to supervisor to independent consultant, I picked up a lot of knowledge along the way,” said Les Skinner, Engineering Consultant at Tekoa Operating Company.

After solving evermore complex issues as a reservoir engineer, engineer supervisor, or senior well control engineer, Skinner got into enhanced oil recovery and the more sophisticated snubbing and coiled tubing well control techniques. As a Senior Well Control Engineer at Cudd Energy Services, Skinner co-developed new technologies on snubbing units and coiled tubing that were later patented by Cudd.

Before I knew it, I was one of the gray-haired guys in the room. I remembered what it was like being taught by all those people who’d done it before (or something like it).

So, 12 years ago, Skinner joined IADC’s Technical Publications Committee.

About Technical Publications Committee

The Technical Publications Committee brings the collective knowledge and experience of the global drilling industry into the hands of rig crews through a vast set of practical resources. In practice, that means creating technical manuals, reference, training materials, and rig-site data forms for the purpose of practical use.

Skinner elaborated on the motivation of working with the Technical Publications Committee:

There’s a lot of information out there. Nowadays, you can find an answer to almost any question. But we learn in this business by doing. That’s how the knowledge was passed down to us, and we want to educate the next generation of up-and-coming engineers on issues they’ve never seen before but most likely will. They should be prepared for that.

“The amount of knowledge in these experts’ heads is amazing,” says Bill Krull, Global Sales Manager at IADC, “In short, it’s the wisdom of the industry.”

Krull, who is also Committee Liaison for the Technical Publications Committee, has seen the book-writing process first-hand, “There are about 12 steps in this process. Each step cycles between the author and the reviewers, drafting and editing.”

Skinner continues about the process itself:

The edits are not merely grammatical. The reviewers are ensuring that the technical content is correct, and they’re also ensuring that the way the information is presented will convey the concepts most clearly.

Why Workovers and Recompletions

“Most of the literature on well integrity covers basis of design, well construction and permanent abandonment,” says Skinner, “Yet, there was not much on workovers and recompletions. The assumption is that since the well is producing and it’s not leaking, it must be okay, but that may not be true.”

With this in mind, Skinner raised his hand when the Technical Publications Committee asked if anyone would be willing to undertake the topic of “Well Integrity for Workovers and Recompletions.”

Having authored 2 previous textbooks on Coiled Tubing Operations and Hydraulic Rig Technology and Operations, he felt like he was up to the challenge.

It’s rewarding to give something back. It’s an opportunity to get down in writing personal experiences so others can avoid repeating the same mistakes we all made as young engineers. If an engineer can avoid any safety issues for themself or their crew, it will have been well worth the effort. Authors use writing books as a way to return their knowledge to the industry, to its young professionals, and to students.