Wellsite Permit to Work (WPTW) System

The Wellsite Permit to Work (WPTW) System is an international leading practice, risk-based, work authorisation process that is used throughout the onshore oil and gas industry.

It is intended to support management control of onshore drilling and associated wellsite services. Developed by the Wellsite Permit to Work Association (WPTWA), it is maintained to the highest industry standards on behalf of our Member companies.

International Leading Practice for PTW

The Wellsite Permit to Work (WPTW) System has been developed by the WPTWA for onshore drilling and associated wellsite services, to create a standardised approach to the planning and control of permitted work.

Leveraging the skills and experience of our many Member organisations and their key technical personnel, WPTW is a uniquely ‘industry-based’ solution that represents the best information and practices available.

At its core, Revision 3 is a System that meets international leading practice requirements for Permit to Work, including:

  • Improved risk management-based Permit process that creates the framework for the entire system
  • Incorporation of current regulatory considerations for site safety managers
  • Responsibilities for all key roles clearly defined for all aspects of the preparation, review, authorisation, issue and closeout aspects of the permit life cycle
  • Step-by-step description of the entire WPTW process
  • Improved documentation that streamlines the permit development and issue process
  • WPTW Permit Form has been specifically designed and extensively field tested to improve usability
  • Additional forms to support documentary requirements are also available (free download for WPTWA Members)
  • Clarification of permit requirements for routine work and the development of SOPs
  • Better definition of permit requirements for Hot Work and the use of vehicles on wellsites
  • Training and competency framework
  • Key role holder training mapped to Australian national competency requirements
  • Improved referencing system and extensive Glossary of Terms
  • WPTW Handbook available in A4 and A6 formats to support training and field applications

Maintained to the Highest Industry Standards

The content and functionality of the WPTW System is constantly reviewed by our technical specialists to ensure it meets current regulatory requirements and reflects leading practice in the industry. The Systems Operations Committee of WPTWA meets regularly to consider possible improvements to the System and to discuss international trends and opportunities.

This represents a considerable advantage to our Members, who benefit from the best industry advice being channelled into future development of a key operational management system. This allows them to focus on their core business, confident that the work planning and authorisation systems on site will promote operational excellence.

Risk Based Approach to Work Authorisation

For work to be conducted safely and efficiently on a wellsite, all work-related hazards need to be identified and either eliminated or controlled to the point where there is as little risk of injury or damage to the environment or plant as reasonably practicable. Whilst a risk based approach reflects regulatory duty-of-care requirements, WPTW extends the focus to consider any factors that might impact the work, creating a comprehensive solution for work authorisation. As a consequence, WPTW has been adopted by the majority of companies in the Australian Onshore Oil and Gas Industry.

The hazardous nature of both the work and its environmental context has meant that the Oil and Gas industry has driven many significant improvements in workplace safety at the international level. Stringent regulatory requirements for the industry in the Australian environment mean that Operators and Contractors must conform with rigorous standards for health, safety and environmental performance.

Adopting a strategic approach, the Australian Onshore Oil and Gas industry has understood the many benefits of an industry-wide system for the planning and authorisation of high risk activities. The WPTW System was developed to create a standardised approach to the control of permitted work. It is an industry-wide work authorisation process, intended specifically for onshore drilling and associated wellsite services. By leveraging the combined technical knowledge and experience of our Member organisations, WPTW represents a unique level of consultation and collaboration between Oil and Gas Operators and Contractors to create an international leading practice standard for PTW.

Management Control

Under WPTW, a wellsite is formally ‘handed over’ to a contractor organisation to allow work to be managed in accordance with contract obligations. The primary wellsite contractor is required to coordinate all work on the wellsite, including the activities of their own personnel, other wellsite contractors, sub-contractors and operating company personnel, for the duration of the handover.  WPTW provides a comprehensive and robust approach to planning and coordination of all wellsite activities.

The WPTW System can be used in association with a wellsite handover process to allow coordination with an operating company’s existing work permit processes, if needed.

The WPTW Handbook describes the System, the permitting process and how to complete the WPTW documentation, covering the entire range of work typically conducted at onshore wellsites, including:

General Work Lifting Work Electrical Work Pressure Systems Work
Hot Work Working at Heights Confined Space Entry Explosive/ Radioactive Work
Excavation Work Simultaneous Operations (SIMOPS)

Unlike some permit systems, WPTW authorises a ‘scope of work’ and identifies the high-risk work categories associated with the entire job, dramatically improving the coordination of risk controls and reducing paperwork. A list of typical work precautions is available for each work category to allow the rapid identification of the risk controls that must be in place before starting work. There is also provision for ongoing conditions that must be maintained while carrying out the work.

Key Roles in WPTW

There are a number of key roles under the WPTW System. Any person performing those roles must have completed WPTWA endorsed training and competency assessment, and hold current certification to that role.

The primary roles are:

Wellsite Permit Authority (WPA)

The WPA is responsible for establishing a safe working environment for all work activities conducted under a permit, and for reviewing, assessing and issuing permits under the WPTW System.

For rig-related activities, the WPA is typically the Rig Manager/Toolpusher or their designate. For non-rig wellsite activities, the WPA is typically a senior representative of the principal Wellsite Contractor conducting the work activity.

Operating Company Representative (OCR)

The OCR is authorised to act on behalf of the Operating Company to review the management of wellsite activities.

Permits can only be issued and closed out without direct OCR approval under pre-agreed conditions between the Wellsite Contractor and the Operating Company. Where there is no OCR, the responsibilities default to the WPA, unless otherwise agreed between the Wellsite Contractor and the Operating Company.

Wellsite Permit Holder (WPH)

The WPH is tasked with supervising all work that is conducted under the WPTW issued to them.

They have a range of responsibilities to ensure that all conditions of the Permit are both implemented and maintained during work activities and ensuring that work party members comply with all Permit requirements.

There are also supplementary roles such as Work Precautions Verifier (WPV) and Wellsite Permit Coordinator (WPC) that are explained during the WPTW certification training.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the WPTW System materials?

The WPTW System materials are:

  • A3 WPTW Permit Pad (50 sets of permits in triplicate)
  • A3 WPTW Complex SIMOPS Permit Pad (25 sets in quadruplicate)
  • A4 WPTW Handbook
  • A6 WPTW Handbook
  • Work Party Acceptance Form
  • Gas Detection and Monitoring Form
  • Confined Space Entry Certificate

Go to WPTW System Materials

Can anyone print off their own WPTW System materials?

No. The WPTW System Materials are the copyrighted intellectual property of WPTWA and are only available to Members of the Association.

Go to WPTW System Materials

Become a Member of WPTWA

Do I have to be a Member of the Association to use WPTW?

Yes. The WPTW System and all related materials are the intellectual property of the WPTW Association and use of the System to plan and authorise work is restricted to Members of the Association.

Your personnel can work on a wellsite under WPTW as ‘Participants’, subject to individual competency certification requirements, but to use the WPTW System you must be a Member of the Association.

Become a Member of WPTWA

Who issues the WPTW certification cards?

WPTW certification cards are only issued by WPTWA.  

Go to WPTW Training

‘User’ or ‘Participant’?

Users of the WPTW System have full access to all System resources and must be Members of the WPTWA.

Other companies may work on wellsites as ‘Participants’ in the System, and derive the planning, risk management and other benefits of WPTW, without being WPTWA Members. Personnel from those companies may hold permits (if WPH certified) or be members of a work party conducting the work.

The WPTW System is used by the organisation that is in management control, to plan and authorise work on a wellsite. Management control of the wellsite will often be formally handed over from the operating company to a primary contractor, who will use WPTW to coordinate the work of their own personnel, sub-contractors, other contractors, and operating company personnel during the handover period. WPTW allows the senior contractor representative on site to manage all activities to ensure that hazards and conflicts are identified and controlled prior to the commencement of work.

‘Users’ of the System include operating companies, rig contractors or service companies:

  • whose personnel act in roles of Wellsite Permit Authority (WPA) or Operating Company Representative (OCR); OR
  • that have the WPTW System formally incorporated into their safety management system, such as their safety management plan

Users must be members of the Association if they wish to use the WPTW System.

‘Participants’ are other companies whose personnel only act in the roles of Permit Holder or Work Party Member and/or that do not formally have the WPTW System incorporated into their safety management system.

Participants in the WPTW System do not need to be members of the Association in order to have their personnel working on a wellsite. At the discretion of the WPA, those personnel can work under a permit held by another company, having been trained in the primary contractor’s standard site safety induction provisions.

NOTE: If Participants have personnel who are required to hold a WPTW to conduct or supervise work on a wellsite, those personnel will need to do the Wellsite Permit Holder (WPH) certification course. The company will not need to be a member of WPTWA but the individual will need to be WPH certified to hold a Permit. This ensures that every person with a key role in the work is fully familiar with the WPTW System and its requirements, allowing work to be fully planned and then to proceed safely and efficiently.

Questions that you can ask to help you determine whether you are a User or a Participant include:

  1. Am I the sole operating company on site?
  2. Does my safety management plan make reference to the Wellsite Permit to Work System?
  3. Do/will my personnel act in the roles of Permit Authority/Operating Company Representative?
  4. Do/will my personnel issue permits?
  5. Do/will my personnel only ever sign on to permits?’
  6. Do/will my personnel ever need to hold permits?’

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of Questions 1 to 4, your company is likely to be a ‘User’.

If you answered ‘no’ to Questions 1 to 4 and ‘yes’ to Question 5, your company is likely to be a ‘Participant’.

If you answered ‘no’ to Questions 1 to 4 and ‘yes’ to Question 6, your company is likely to be a ‘Participant’, but you will need to ensure that these personnel are WPH certified before they mobilise to site.   

Go to WPTW Training

User FAQ

For more FAQs, download our WPTW System FAQ Sheet below.

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