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Mitigating Bias, Blindness, and Illusion in E&P Decision Making

Decisions in E&P ventures are affected by bias, blindness, and illusions which permeate our analyses, interpretations and decisions. This two-day course examines the influence of these cognitive pitfalls and presents techniques that can be used to mitigate their impact. Bias refers to errors in thinking whereby interpretations and judgments are drawn in an illogical fashion. Blindness is the condition where we fail to see an unexpected event in plain sight. Illusion refers to misleading beliefs based on a false impression of reality. All three can lead to poor decisions regarding which work to undertake, what issues to focus on, and whether to forge ahead or walk away from a project.

This course begins by examining the types of bias, blindness, and illusions that affect us. Exercises, videos, examples, and discussions help illustrate how these manifest themselves in our daily activities and professional assessments. We then address their role in the oil and gas industry by presenting case studies that show their impact on decision-making and asking course participants to identify what types of cognitive errors contributed to the project outcomes. This is followed by real-world exercises using project data to give participants practice in mitigating bias, blindness, and illusion in their technical work. The course concludes by presenting a summary ‘toolkit’ with mitigation techniques that can immediately be applied to project work and decisions.

Course Description (PDF)

Who Should Attend: Geoscientists, Negotiators, Engineers, Economists, and Management
What Participants Are Saying: “New concepts and materials–lightbulb moment!”
“Realistic exercises reinforce theory and concepts”
“Recommended for all geoscientists, engineers, commercial groups and managers”

Course Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Blindness and Illusions
    1. Perceptual Blindness
    2. Illusions of Knowledge, Potential, and Objectivity
  3. Cognitive and Motivational Bias
    1. Anchoring, Availability, Confirmation, Framing, Implicit Conditioning, Information, and Overconfidence Bias
    2. Motivational Bias
  4. Case Studies (a relevant subset of these will be presented)
    1. Plio-Pleistocene Sandstone (Exploration Well)
    2. Cambrian Sandstone (Field Appraisal)
    3. Pliocene Sandstone (Exploration ‘Drill or Drop’)
    4. Jurassic Sandstone (Exploration License Round)
    5. Cretaceous Shale (Field Appraisal)
    6. Cambrian Sandstone (Field Appraisal)
  5. Real-World Exercises (a relevant exercise will be presented)
    1. Triassic sandstone, structural play (Exploration Well)
    2. Fractured carbonate, waterflood potential (Field Appraisal)
  6. Summary ‘Toolkit’