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Should 'basic' questions be allowed on SPREAD?
10 July 2020
In a recent post, DT mentioned that he'd had some feedback that some of the questions on SPREAD were a bit 'basic'.

To be honest, I was disappointed and a bit annoyed by that.

Come on people, we all have to learn.

We didn't start out with 15 years experience on our first day on the job (although we all know people who claim they did...).

Some of us were lucky to have 'grey hairs' around when we were 'wet behind the ears' engineers and the grey hairs were happy to answer 'basic' questions as part of our learning curve.

These days people may not be so lucky, as there are fewer grey hairs around.

Also bear in mind that in some cultures, the attitude is that 'knowledge is power' and people are unwilling to share. This can also happen when you have a new or weak Manager who may be unsure of their position in the organisation.

So the poor engineer may ask the question and get a fob off answer - or no answer at all.

It's easy enough to say 'look it up on the Internet'.

Odd statement to make, since posting a question on SPREAD is doing just that...

Besides, not everyone has easy access to the Internet and by no means everyone has broadband speeds when they do access it.

And what if the Internet gives several answers and you don't know which is correct?

You ask....

And where better to ask than SPREAD?

If the question is poorly worded, don't ignore it. Ask for more information and try and find out what the person is really asking about.

After all, when we started out, we didn't know what we didn't know, and sometimes we'd ask a question about one thing, when in reality we were asking about something else altogether.

Also, just because you have 20+ years, it sure as shyte doesn't mean you know everything either.

On my last project we were using a DP Semi. I've never used a DP Semi before and my last Semi work was back in 1997.

So did I ask some 'basic' questions?


If you have never used MPD before, should you ask some 'basic' questions?


If you have never drilled in an H2S area before, should you ask some 'basic' questions?


I strongly believe that we have a responsibility to pass on our knowledge to the upcoming generation(s) of people entering into an industry which - let's be honest - isn't getting a lot of good press these days..

So try and put yourself in their shoes, remember when you were a young, wide eyed, wet behind the ears engineer and just answer their question as best you can.
12 answer(s)
Consultant [retired Shell staff]
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 277
Join Date: 02/09/05
Since the beginning of my Drilling Engineer career, back in 1967 (Fina, Angola) I did learn the importance of naive questions. For me they usually elicit smart answers that give an extra dimension to the so called basic question.

A silly, stupid question - both misnomers . are a starting point of a technical doalogue i.e. the technical comunication which is the basis of our technology both an art and science.

I will welcome any of these questions!  I hope to convey in my tentative answer the correct "Road Sign" to keep you on the right path since the very beginning!
Drilling Consultant
SPREAD Associates
Total Posts: 41
Join Date: 11/02/09
In 1957, the IADC recommended that mud weight be reported as a pressure gradient in psi/1000 ft, not PPG.  63 years later, we still use this useless (without converting it to a gradient x 0.052) unit.  The industry has a lot of inertia on some things but to improve, it's necessary to change things.

We do amazing things with deep water, ERD etc but sometimes we can take a fresh look at the basic stuff and see something different, a better way.  When young oilfield professionals ask basic questions, it makes us think about basic things and how to explain that, which can lead to a fresh perspective.  The experienced ones among us must be willing to mentor others by sharing our experience.  It also feels good to help others.

Of course I fully agree with the points that Scott made, and the others who have expressed similar sentiments.

Regards, Steve.
Senior Wells & Technology Manager
Oil & Gas Authority (UK)
Total Posts: 4
Join Date: 18/10/16

Totally agree. There are also cultural and gender differences in the willingness to ask questions. I always say "there is no such thing as a silly question". One of the reasons I like working with interns and new graduates is that they ask the "but why" question. As well as passing on knowledge we can also learn from the questions.

Drilling Supt
China National Offshore Oil Corporation
Total Posts: 11
Join Date: 24/09/09
very good suggestion, this is a good communication platform. we can share practice and lessons. 
If we have any new technology ,we can also share with everyone.
Consultant Well Engineer and Trainer - HPHT, Deepwater and MPD Well Delivery and Well Control,
Welltrain Limited
Total Posts: 25
Join Date: 09/12/09
Graeme,  You experience echos mine as a totally clueless DSV.  My mentor was a gentleman, in the truest sense of the word, called Henk Wijsbeek.  

I was one of the first "Graduate" DSVs deployed under Shell's Drilling in the 90's scheme.  Passed Round 2 with ease but was woefully under-prepared from a practical perspective.

Henk took me under his wing and  always had loads of probing questions  for me during the daily calls to the office.  My learning curve was vertical...he kept me out of trouble (mostly!) and I learned practical lessons from him that have held true my whole career.  

Tragically, Henk was taken from us with a heart attack way too soon in 1996.  He was effectively the 6th fatality of the El-Isba blowout in Syria.  To this day he remains a role model for me in all walks of life.

RIP Henk.

Drilling Supt
Neptune Energy
Total Posts: 6
Join Date: 18/05/15
My first job was as a DSV back in ‘81. As you can imagine I didn’t know shit. But everyday my DS would ask me 20 questions which I had to know the answer to before my next call. So I could argue the “managers” should be asking the questions, not to catch someone out but to train.
On Steve’s point, as a DS, when the DSV calls with a problem I want three solutions and the one he prefers. 90% of the time I will go with his preferred. The reason being I know the crew at the “coal face” will have discussed it and will buy into it. On the other 10% I know the big picture that they might not. This was how I was trained at Chevron.
As an aside if I answered the phone twice in a row he would ask why I was not outside. Was sink or swim!
Andy Wood
Manager of Subsurface Operations
Manage My Rocks Limited
Total Posts: 2
Join Date: 29/06/20
Our job, as the voices of experience is to assist everyone who asks.

There are no stupid questions.
Drilling Specialist/Well Engineer/Training Consultant
Kingdom Drilling
Total Posts: 471
Join Date: 10/01/05
Mostly agree as Scot as outlined. . 

But rewind to the first time you called that Drl Supt in a company that put you there to prevent such problems in the first place because they envisaged your we’re competent to be so. Otherwise why would you be there? 

. Vs many that your simple call town and await a solution, Where evidential this is the still the standard failure norm. 

One then quickly learns that before you call the DS you gather the evidence and have discussed with all concerned what our options are!  

so for for all newbies I’ll share what it took me 35 years to learn about in regards to solving one’s life and work drilling problems without assigning blame. 

Where Fact!  Not one oil and gas corporation ever afforded me to be trained me in what I regarded as a fundamental and basic skill that I recognised I I lacked all through to the end of my (failed)  career. 

With a few successes when I was empowered to do the right things to assure things went right first time. Ie stay out of trouble. 

Note:, That I had pay out of my pocket and go to Alaska to discover and to learn about Ie  LCA! 

So I’ll share all for free in another post, 

Watch this space. 
Lead ERD Advisor / Engineer / Instructor
Merlin ERD Limited
Total Posts: 17
Join Date: 04/05/16
Couldn't agree more. My only bug bear is if the information has already been discussed on a previous blog......... but Dave does a good job of patrollling those type of questions.
Fishing Supervisor
Total Posts: 4
Join Date: 13/11/14
Couldn't agree more Scott. The only daft question is the one you were too afraid to ask. As a young roughneck I was a master of the "basic question" much to my toolpusher's annoyance but I love it now, 40 years later, when a youngster plucks up enough courage to quiz me on what I'm doing. Keeps me on my toes and every once in a while you might find that youngster comes up with a different view on a problem, which I'm never too proud to take on board if it helps. 
And besides, it's always the youngsters I turn to for help with computer & IT both ways:)

Consultant Well Engineer and Trainer - HPHT, Deepwater and MPD Well Delivery and Well Control,
Welltrain Limited
Total Posts: 25
Join Date: 09/12/09
Scott,   Totally agree.  It takes seconds to read question and  no-one is forced to answer any.   

As long as the link works (and mine doesn't always seem to, its also easy to answer a question too!

I still learn a lot more than I contribute here...  its a small thing to take a little time to help out occasionally.

Total Posts: 114
Join Date: 10/04/08
Scott, Well said and 100% agree. Our industry and anyone in it needs all the help they can get right now. Paul
Posted by

Scott McNeil


SPREAD Associates

Total Posts: 153
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