Effective Wellsite PTW

Reducing over use of work permits on well sites by improving approaches to managing routine operations through robust application of appropriate and existing safety management tools.



On some sites the Wellsite Permit to Work (WPTW) System is used to manage all activities on the wellsite.  This includes low risk or routine activities that could be effectively controlled by existing operational procedures.

It has been reported that Wellsite Supervisors and Rig Managers are spending an excessive amount of time handling large numbers of permits under the WPTW system in order to manage mostly routine-type operations. To fully meet the requirements of the WPTW system and ensure hazards are identified and risks adequately controlled, increasing time is being spent on processing paperwork, with little demonstrable safety benefit and with an ultimately less desirable approach to fully utilising the WPTW system to manage risks at the well site.

Over use of permits creates a number of problems for supervisory personnel on the wellsite:

  • It can greatly increase the workload (the ‘paperwork’) without improving work safety outcomes.
  • It downgrades the importance of a permit if it is used for simple low risk tasks.
  • It leads to a ‘tick and flick’ mentality regarding the paperwork.
  • Writing an individual permit every time can become a substitute for developing good, robust Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that fully control work-related risks and which should become the agreed ‘best practice’ approach for that activity.


Working Group members Schlumberger, Easternwell and Shell-QGC established a working party to enhance approaches to managing routine-type operations through robust application of appropriate and existing safety management tools such as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) and SOP. This approach enabled the vast experience associated with managing repeat operations within CSG factory drilling, completion and workover operations to be effectively utilised.

The working group liaised with the WPTW Association on various occasions to clarify that the approaches being trialled conformed to the WPTW System and adhered to proper standards of risk management.


Now Available!

Safer Together and the WPTW Association have jointly published a Case Study – Standard Operating Procedures Under the WPTW System.

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For More Information

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