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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 creep into our analyses and interpretations. This one to two day course examines the influence of these distortions 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. Illusions are 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 exert themselves in our daily activities. We then address their role in the oil and gas industry via case studies that show their impact on decision-making. This is followed by real-world exercises using data from exploration and/or development projects to give participants practice in addressing bias, blindness, and illusions in their technical work. The course concludes by presenting a summary ‘toolkit’ with mitigation techniques that immediately can be applied to project work.

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
    1. Miocene Sandstone (development project)
    2. Plio-Pleistocene Sandstone (exploration project)
    3. Cambrian Sandstone (development project)
    4. Cambrian Sandstone (appraisal project)
    5. Cretaceous Shale (appraisal and development project)
  5. Real-World Exercises
    1. Triassic sandstone, structural play (exploration project)
    2. Pliocene sandstone, stratigraphic play (exploration project)
    3. Fractured carbonate reservoir (appraisal and development project)
    4. Shale gas reservoir (appraisal and development project)
  6. Summary Tools