Drilling Safety

Aramco's Drilling safely on the move

Sophisticated invisible passenger provides a safe eye on distant journeys.

Aramco's Drilling safely on the move

Driving 350-kilometers in the summer to a drilling rig in the center of one of Saudi Arabia’s deserts, it would be easy to feel a little edgy.


However, when traveling on a drilling trip, you are never alone. 


Inside Aramco’s Dhahran headquarters, a nerve center of human and electronic eyes watches and meticulously tracks every movement of your drilling journey. 


24/7 journey management 

Aramco manages one of the world’s largest drilling fleets.


Constantly on the move, the fleet operates within the vast distances of the Kingdom’s onshore and offshore horizons.


Whether traveling to drill new wells, or working on existing wells, a centralized Drilling and Workover Department (D&WO) operations center oversees safety and efficiency of drilling journeys. 


Staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) operates with a minimum of two trained operators working one of three shifts. 


“We coordinate and check on drilling travelers, and if necessary, activate immediate support for search and rescue,” said Operational Excellence and Compliance Division general supervisor Abdullah M. Haidari.


“Drilling and workover has a fleet of almost 800 vehicles, and we coordinate an average of 500 trips each month,” added Haidari.

Safe digital traveling

Before we drive 3.5 hours from Dhahran into the sandy heat of the southern ad-Dahna desert, field compliance coordinator Osama S. Ghamdi calls the EOC for our journey management plan.


After he provides details of our vehicle, all passengers and our destination, the EOC operator instructs Ghamdi on the trip coordinates, and we set off.


Sophisticated procedures and monitoring systems track journeys in real-time, explains field compliance technician Saeed A. Alqarny, speaking from the EOC. 


As we drive south, an automatic vehicle satellite-based tracking technology pinpoints our trip. 


If, after 30 minutes the EOC cannot confirm expected arrival, or we do not call in to notify our safe whereabouts, a primary search and rescue will be activated.


After one hour, a secondary search and rescue is initiated.


“Our goal to for all journeys to have zero incidents and violations,” says Alqarny, who formerly worked on drilling rigs in both the northern and southern areas. 


“We help people to reach their destination safely.” 


Drilling emergency response

An important role of the EOC is to also monitor both preparedness for, and management of, all drilling site emergencies.


“The EOC facilitates tabletop and primary emergency drills, and provides swift and robust response during emergencies,” says EOC field compliance coordinator Mobarak M. Qahtani.


“In an emergency it is important to have quick access to the on-site emergency responders.


“Once a week, from our emergency management decision room, we have a shared video conference with all of Aramco’s 50 emergency control centers,” he adds.


Every drilling site has full-functioning clinic, ambulance, and access to local medical facilities, while Johns Hopkins Aramco Healthcare, and the company’s Aviation and Marine departments are on 24-hour standby.


Standard procedure at the EOC is daily contact with every drilling site to ensure operational functionality of one of the three communication channels — radio, satellite, and telephone.


“It is about life,” says field compliance technician Mana S. Aldossry who joined the EOC in 2016, after working for 10 years on offshore and onshore drilling rigs.


“Being a part of the EOC team, increased the sense of responsibilities for me,” says Al-Dossary. “We are here in the EOC to ensure, at the end of the day, that no one gets injured.”


D&WO, as part of Aramco’s crisis management response, also supports other company areas during emergencies. 




TOP PHOTO: Drilling’s Emergency Operations Center, a centralized control facility, looks after emergency preparedness and management for Aramco’s drilling and workover operations, as well as journey management.


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