Recently, someone asked me about cementing engineering training schools by an employee of a regional cementing company. This person was aspiring towards a position as a senior cementing engineer.
The rise of regional companies
The interest from this cementing company employee was not the first time I have received a similar question. They are becoming more frequent with the rise of local and regional companies elsewhere.
These companies are taking market share from the big ones, due to their capacity to quickly adapt to local market conditions. (And the use of spare experienced professionals laid off during the downturn). Conversely, they lack a formal training structure and to offer younger local generations a clear path to senior positions.
How to learn cementing engineering
Here was my response:
My advice for you to get the necessary rest of the knowledge base is the following:
- Attend cement jobs, but not just appearing the day of the job and witnessing the execution. The important part is to join an engineering colleague from the moment the job itself is being conceptualized. Essential questions and things to look at:
- The safety aspects of the operation and how safety gets embedded in the job design.
- Why? This is the job objective. In other words, the reasons to perform the cement job.
- How? Here you need to understand the challenges and know what measures are incorporated in the job design to prevent, reduce or mitigate them. These could be actions to be applied before, during or even after the cement job.
- Understand the link between cementing fluids properties and cement placement with the desired outcome.
- Understand the importance of a job simulation and the role of the engineer. Here I would like to highlight that contrary to what people think, (even some cementers themselves), cement engineers don’t just calculate volumes. The beauty of our work comes from our capacity to engineer a successful zonal isolation job.
- Understand that, what’s important for drilling is essential to cementing. Every good cementer always follows the progress of the drilling stage to section TD and casing running. Clues are there to indicate what we need to do.
- Job logistics and traceability. Use the same chemicals and bulk materials throughout the services deployment, from pilot testing, to blending and field mixing.
- Repeat No. 1 several times. Even I, after 22 years as a cementing engineer, still enjoy this part very much.
- Make sure you ask questions, all the time. More importantly be able to find the right answers. Learn to be restless when somebody tells you: “this is what we do” … here your objective is to know: why is it done this way? And which is the right way to do it? This is difficult because the person you are asking might not know the answer to the second question or even to the first question. There is nothing wrong in being curious.
- Read and understand ‘API STANDARD 65—PART 2 / Isolating Potential Flow Zones During Well Construction’. Then, go for details in the right book ‘Well Cementing Book by Erik B. Nelson, Dominique Guillot, and others.’
- Now, regarding training; generally, training companies only provide week-long exercises. Despite the good intentions and quality, it is not something I can recommend, and you are correct to avoid them. Similarly, month-long cementing training is expensive, and even the big companies have re-defined these training courses to be more cost-effective. Anyway, this type of training is only introductory. The produced ‘engineers’ would just become stand-alone after a year or two of on-the-job training. In other words, no short-term training courses are producing full-fledged cementing engineers. The most important part is what comes after.
- Finally, contact me if you need any help. I can provide remote support and training.
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