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Staying in the zone: the cognitive components associated with offshore drillers' situation awareness.

Roberts, Ruby C.; Flin, Rhona; Cleland, Jennifer


Jennifer Cleland


Situation Awareness (SA) issues are often identified as contributing factors to drilling incidents, most recently in the Deepwater Horizon blowout. Two studies aimed to identify the cognitive components required for offshore drillers to develop and maintain SA whilst controlling subsea hydrocarbon wells. In study one, critical incident interviews were conducted with 18 experienced drilling personnel. Transcripts were subjected to thematic analysis, producing a framework of cognitive processes that enable drillers to build up an understanding of what is happening in the well bore and surrounding environment, predicting how the situation may develop. In the second study, analysis of 24 hours of observations (in-vivo and video) from a high fidelity well control simulator suggest behaviors such as monitoring and crew sharing information contribute to the drillers' SA. The findings highlight the importance of SA for safe and effective performance in drilling and are being used to develop a cognitive task analysis.


ROBERTS, R.C., FLIN, R. and CLELAND, J. 2014. Staying in the zone: the cognitive components associated with offshore drillers' situation awareness. Proceedings of the human factors and ergonomics society annual meeting [online], 58(1): papers of the 58th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society annual meeting 2014 (HFES 2014), 27-31 October, 2014, San Diego, USA, pages 270-274. Available from:

Journal Article Type Conference Paper
Conference Name 58th Human Factors and Ergonomics Society 2014 (HFES2014)
Conference Location San Diego, CA
Acceptance Date Sep 30, 2014
Online Publication Date Oct 17, 2014
Publication Date Sep 30, 2014
Deposit Date Feb 19, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 7, 2021
Journal Proceedings of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Annual Meeting
Print ISSN 2169-5067
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 58
Issue 1
Pages 270-274
Keywords Blowout; Oil spill; Situation awareness (SA); Drillers; Offshore drilling
Public URL


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