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Eye tracking technology could lead to safety improvements in well control operations

An IOGP study has found that eye tracking technology is an effective analysis tool and has the potential to be of value in other human performance areas that affect wells operations, and enable future safety improvements for well control.

The study involved recording experienced drilling professionals using eye tracking equipment while participating in well control scenarios using a high-fidelity drilling simulator.

Eye tracking is the tracking and recording of eye movement to see where people look during a task. In dynamic tasks, humans move their eyes often, taking in many different pieces of information continually to build overall awareness and collect visual feedback.

Within the last 20 years, eye tracking technology has become sufficiently practical to examine tasks outside dedicated laboratory settings, providing useful insights of human eye scanning behaviour.

Its use is now increasing across many domains, such as the aviation industry, where eye tracking of pilots has led to changes in training and procedures to improve safety.

For the study, two visits were made to oil and gas drilling simulation centres. Discussions took place with several subject matter experts and the drilling task was informally assessed through talk-through methods and observation with support of eye tracking. A ‘mock’ experiment was run with two participants to mimic a full piece of eye tracking research to explore the potential of the application.

The study involved the use of a high-fidelity well control simulator designed to provide an immersive experience to drillers for well control training and assessment. The simulator was chosen because it provided a realistic representation that could provide useful insights of eye scanning behaviour using wearable mobile eye tracking technology.

The modest amount of data obtained in this short study was informative and it is probable that larger scale collection would provide important information for future safety initiatives. This could involve partnering with equipment manufacturers and rig contractors to standardize design and layout of the consoles and enhance interface on their control instrumentations.

Assessment of eye tracking technology in well control operations is available to download from the IOGP Publications library.

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