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Blowouts are the greatest risk faced during Drilling and Well operations. It follows that vigilance and monitoring are two vital prerequisites to any drilling activity. No one doubts the need for constant monitoring of the well. The question is which parameters to monitor and why. The Well Sentinel risk mitigation program aims to answer those questions.

Jérôme Guyon

Drilling & Wells

Safety is one of our core values and the cornerstone of operational excellence for Total as well as our partners. This priority led to the formulation of Golden Rules stipulating the do’s and don’ts required to ensure safety in the workplace. These Rules apply to everyone – employees of Total and partner companies alike. Everyone is personally responsible for taking ownership of these rules, following them and making sure others follow and enforce them in the field.

In the context of drilling operations, our Golden Rules are supplemented by an internal directive that emphasizes detecting the early warning signs of a blowout. It also clearly defines the key roles people have in maintaining well stability and preventing accidents. Despite the existence of this guidance, however, there was still a need to make sure the operating personnel were aware of their responsibilities and fully familiar with the role they are to play.


Campagne Well Sentinel - Exploration Production - Total

An Innovative Accident-Prevention Campaign

Acting on these considerations, we developed Well Sentinel as a means of clearly expressing what we expect of the personnel concerned. It is an awareness drive spanning rules of conduct, best practices and common sense to ensure the safety of both people and facilities.

The “sentinels”  correspond to eight key positions identified among rig personnel:

  • DC Supervisor
  • Mud engineer
  • Wellsite geologist
  • Roughneck
  • Shakerhand
  • Driller
  • Derrickman
  • Mud Logger

The specific tasks were already defined in detail in the job descriptions, but we reviewed individuals’ actions in order to define priorities. The goal here was to make each of these operators – whether Total or contractor employees – accountable for detecting the warning signs of an incident. In other words, regardless of their rank, every sentinel has a role to play.


Well Sentinel team - Drilling - Exploration Production - Total

A Complete System

Our Well Sentinel system is unmatched in the industry. In other companies, efforts are often confined to issuing guidelines and manuals to rig crews. Total’s awareness and education drive combines several different aspects:

  • All rig personnel have access to concise information in the form of posters displayed in the workplace where everyone can refer to them at all times. With one poster for each key position, the roles and duties are clearly specified.
  • Rig personnel can easily recognize the Well Sentinels thanks to the sticker on their hard hat. Sentinels also receive a special induction briefing on site, during which these  priorities are clearly explained.

One year after the campaign was developed and rolled out on all of our active drill rigs, the results are highly positive. Crews, contractors and subsidiaries have all implemented the Well Sentinel system and we now have more than 1,500 Well Sentinels in the field. There is a clear sense of unity in combatting this major risk. In 2017, we observed that a majority of events were immediately detected without a single major operational incident. The challenge now is to sustain our efforts, because the risk will always be there.


A Core Value for Total

Drilling & Wells

Drilling Wells Safely & Cost-Effectively

Drilling & Wells

Enhance Well Risk Management