Wellbore Surveying Competency Programme

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What is special about this course?

This competency programme in wellbore positioning has been developed by the University of the Highlands and Islands with contributions from members of the Industry Steering Committee for Wellbore Survey Accuracy (ISCWSA).

This is the first industry recognised programme on the subject and has been developed in response to an industry-wide need to promote good practice in this safety critical activity. It is aimed at oil professionals who collect, manage or use wellbore survey data and require to have a good understanding of the methods, the equipment and their applications and limitations.

It also provides contractors with a standard, recognised credential in wellbore surveying to demonstrate to clients that their personnel have an adequate competency in the subject.

The programme is facilitated by Prof Angus Jamieson of the University of the Highlands and Islands and includes contributions from well-known industry experts. Angus is a consultant in directional drilling and the primary author of the University of the Highlands and Islands/SPE book, Introduction to Wellbore Positioning, which all students will be expected to read.

Special features

  • You will study online via video lectures and simulation exercises which provide a realistic experience of the process of drilling a directional well using the latest high accuracy techniques
  • You will have the opportunity for one-to-one question and answer sessions with known industry experts through an online forum
  • You will have access to the materials for both the Fundamental and Advanced levels
  • An optional one-week practical school is offered which consists of field exercises on site at Inverness College UHI, with day-trips to Loch Ness and the Moray Firth

Entry requirements

  • While no formal qualifications are required, a good basic knowledge of geometry and trigonometry is an advantage.
  • You should have had some exposure to directional survey data and a background in drilling or geoscience.

The next intakes for this programme will be:

  • Monday 5th August 2019
  • Monday 7th October 2019

Download the eBook

View the introductory video

For further information contact: angus.jamieson@uhi.ac.uk


The online programme content can be taken at Fundamental and Advanced levels and will cover the following areas:

  • Mapping and geodesy for drilling
  • Establishing coordinates
  • North reference
  • In field referencing (IFR) methods
  • Measurement while drilling (MWD) theory and equipment
  • Bottom hole assembly design
  • Basic directional drilling
  • MWD quality control
  • Well planning
  • Landing in thin reservoirs
  • Survey tools and their uses
  • Survey calculations
  • Survey uncertainty theory
  • The ISCWSA error model
  • Collision avoidance
  • Survey improvement techniques
  • Multi station analysis (MSA) magnetic correction
  • Relief well design and magnetic ranging


Programme Assessment

The programme will be assessed at two levels: Fundamental and Advanced. Assessment will take place in week nine, following completion of the eight week study period. Both assessment levels will be by multiple choice and calculations. You will have access to the materials for both levels and will be required to take the Level One Assessment. You may elect to take the Level Two Assessment which will require a basic knowledge of surveying mathematics such as trigonometry and geometry.

Fundamentals of Wellbore Surveying  (Level One Assessment)

  • This level will provide you with a good knowledge of the basics of wellbore surveying and an understanding of the principles of operation of the survey tools.
  • You should be able to plan a simple well trajectory and design a suitable survey programme to minimise collision risk and maximise production success.

Advanced Wellbore Surveying  (Level Two Assessment)

  • This level will provide you with a deeper understanding of both the theory and practice of wellbore surveying.
  • You will be required to demonstrate the ability to apply this knowledge in practical, high accuracy drilling exercises. These will include the use of the latest survey correction techniques such as sag, stretch and Multi Station Analysis (MSA).

Optional extras

Optional one-week practical school (subject to numbers):

  • An optional, one-week practical school will be open to you if you have completed the Advanced Wellbore Surveying Level Two Assessment
  • You will have the opportunity to carry out an in-field referencing survey on land, on sea and in the air, after which you will collate and present the survey data
  • You will be taught how to use down hole survey tools such as a north seeking gyro, magnetic multi shot tool, etc.
  • You will be given real data in a simulated Real Time Operating Centre to process Relief Well MWD and ranging data in real time

How will I study my course?

  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • This will include video lectures and online simulation exercises as well as opportunities for one-to-one questions and answers through an online forum with known industry experts
  • You will enrol with, and be supported by, the University of the Highlands and Islands Executive Office; all study will be done online

How long will my course last?

  • 8 weeks of learning @ approx. 12 hours per week
  • Assessment will take place in week 9 after completion of the study period

Where can I study my course?

    Start date

    The next intakes will be:

    • Monday 5th August 2019
    • Monday 7th October 2019
    • You will enrol with, and be supported by, the University of the Highlands and Islands Executive Office; all study will be done online
    • For those who have successfully completed the advanced level programme, an optional, one-week practical school will be available - contact angus.jamieson@uhi.ac.uk for details
    • Places will be allocated on a first come, first-served basis 


    For new applicants, the cost of the course is 3000 GBP including taxes. For companies who have an approved internal tutor who has already completed the course to a satisfactory standard, discounts can be offered for students who are tutored internally.


    Applicants may wish to approach their company to enquire about possible funding options.

    What can I do on completion of my course?

    Once you have successfully completed this programme you will be better equipped for careers in: directional drilling, geosteering, MWD operations, wellbore surveying, relief well operations.

    Is there more information available online?

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    Apply for Wellbore Surveying Competency Programme

    Please note that places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and we cannot guarantee your chosen date.

    I want to apply for this programme for the following intake starting on:

    05 August 2019

    07 October 2019

    We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.