Established in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1982 – Happy 40th Birthday to us!

On our 40th anniversary, we look back at the development of our UK operations and the journey to becoming a global technical HQ. Established in 1982 by our founder Gene Wilson, Aberdeen Drilling School fast became a regional centre of excellence in well control training and complex wells consultancy.  From our humble beginnings in Aberdeen city centre, the company has developed into a global training and consultancy business, branching out with international training centres on 4 continents training in over 50 countries worldwide.

Our roots (as our name suggests) remain in Aberdeen, a city which itself has become a global centre of offshore and subsea technology excellence.  From a single classroom on the ground floor of an office block in 1982 our Aberdeen training centre has taken over the whole building and now boasts 5 classrooms, two full-size rig-floor simulators, a cyber drilling suite, a dedicated customer service team, finance and administration departments, an expert technical advisory team, and a skilled graphics and animations team to support and facilitate world-class training.


Significant Milestones

Aberdeen Drilling School has significantly grown in size and capability since opening in 1982. Today we are a trusted partner with the technical expertise to support our client’s global training requirements.

“Back in the late 1990s I joined a small but ambitious training company with one facility (in Aberdeen, of course!).  In our quest to internationalise, we embraced all the latest technologies of the time – the fax machines were humming constantly!  It’s amazing to look back now and see how the company has spread the “Aberdeen Drilling” name to every continent as a stamp of quality.  Despite growth and expansion, one thing remains the same: the “ADS family” ethos.  Our customers can walk into any of our centres and feel they belong, that they are in familiar and safe surroundings and are looked after, and treated as a valued colleague and friend.  That human quality will never change. “ – Tom Donnelly, Senior Manager – New Market Development.

1991/1997 – Accreditation

Being one of the first centres to be IWCF accredited in 1991, shortly followed by becoming IADC accredited, our accredited courses have continually been at the forefront of developments within the drilling industry and we work with both certification bodies to ensure that our courses are at the forefront of technology, are operationally relevant and accessible to all levels of personnel.

1991 – Consultancy Services Established

Building on over 40 years of industry experience our team of technical  experts provides a wide range of professional consultancy services including Technical Authoring, which was launched in 1991.  Since then we have written well over 100 well control manuals, well intervention manuals, WIMS, bridging and regulatory documentation and continually update technology based chapters as the technology has developed.

30 years on, our Technical Team are heavily involved in giving clients independent technical advice and acting as independent arbitrators.  Our team is heavily involved in reviewing global drilling/intervention incidents and advising global clients and their representatives on what actually happened and how to learn from mistakes.

Our Consultancy Team has world-leading experience across all aspects of well control, pressure control, managed pressure operations, extended reach drilling, and high-pressure-high-temperature (HPHT) wells.

1995 – ADS 100 Club

The exclusive ADS 100 Club was launched and our highest-achieving well control training candidates have been showcased on our website for over 25 years. There are now over 100 members of the ADS 100 Club! 

2005 – Rig Crew Workforce Development

In 2005, we launched workforce development training in the Middle East when we participated in a 9-month government-funded program in Kuwait. From that starting point we grew our team to deliver new recruit development and drill crew progression programmes in our Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Oman training centres. More recently our workforce development team in Dammam, Saudi Arabia have been delivering technical diploma programs for academic partners; drilling progression programmes for the drilling community; and safety leadership and engineer development for the operators.  Our team have now trained and upskilled thousands of new hires to the ME drilling industry, supporting the nationalisation of the oilfield and promoting ADS’ brand of technical knowledge, operational focus based in a safety first environment.

2007 – New Ownership

In 2007 Aberdeen Drilling School’s founding father, Gene Wilson, stepped down as managing director, leaving Scotland to repatriate back to his home in USA.  The torch was passed to his colleague, Jim Sutherland, who took over as managing director through to 2019.  Jim is still active in ADS, currently acting as our chairman.

2014 – Aberdeen Drilling School raised £20,000 for Friends of ANCHOR

Every year Aberdeen Drilling School nominate a local charity to support.  In 2014, through fundraising activities, including fun runs and even a novice rowing competition, staff and customers raised just over £20,000 for local charity, Friends of ANCHOR, a charity supporting cancer care in Aberdeen. Pictured below are “Redgrave’s Rowers” on the banks of the River Dee (photo by Ron Wallace).

This year (2022) our charity is the Russel Anderson Foundation, supporting deprived communities access sporting equipment and coaching.


2012 – International Expansion

In 2012 our International Director Stefan Heller moved our Middle East operations office from Kuwait to Oman, to work in partnership with PDO, supporting their role in ensuring Omani oilfield personnel were trained to the highest standard.

In 2014 we embarked on a long term partnership with the Saudi Petroleum Services Polytechnic to support the development and delivery of a new drilling diploma course at their Dammam Centre for Drilling and Construction.

In 2015, we were approached by the NOC’s Drilling Manager to set up a training centre in Malaysia’s capital city and global energy hub, Kuala Lumpur. You can read more here.

In 2017 we began delivering our IWCF accredited programmes in Assen, Netherlands in 2017. You can read more here.

2018 – Joining the RelyOn Nutec group

In 2018, Aberdeen Drilling School became a fully-owned subsidiary and member of the RelyOn Nutec Group. The complementary technical and geographical strengths of both companies offer our clients a greater choice of high-quality training and consultancy services in more locations than ever before.

2019 – Aberdeen Drilling School acquired Oiltec Solutions

In 2019, Aberdeen Drilling School, completed the strategic acquisition of Norwegian simulation technology company Oiltec Solutions AS.  The acquisition was focused on giving us an inhouse technology base, allowing us to fully develop and offer our clients the most advanced simulation technology on the market.   The combination of these two market leading groups, bringing together operational experience and programming technology, is now providing our clients’ unrivalled access to some of the most advanced simulator-based training and consultancy services available.

2020 – Transitioning to virtual instructor-led training

In 2020, like many others, our Aberdeen centre had to adapt quickly to changing COVID-19 safety protocols and transitioned from in-person to virtual training. We now provide a virtual learning option which doesn’t remove our customers’ access to the invaluable expertise of our instructors.

2021 – ADS3-Drill simulator

Our state-of-the art ADS3-Drill twin chair cyber simulator systems was installed in our Aberdeen centre in 2021 and has been used to practice complex operations in a safe and controlled training environment, bringing real-life operational scenarios into your training programme.

Core Team

Jason Grant currently leads the executive management team.  Jason joined the company in 2014 to set up the Malaysian Well Control Centre and to advance the company’s global ambitions, eventually becoming Managing Director in 2019.

Our chairman, Jim Sutherland, has been involved with ADS since 1994, originally joining the company to carry out consultancy work then taking over the management until his semi-retirement in 2019.

Jim reflects on the company’s growth over recent years:

We have a dedicated Customer Service Team in our Aberdeen training centre who support our delegates and our clients L&D departments throughout the booking process, during the course and after the course.   Led by our Centre Manager, Rachel Watt, we have become known for our customer-centred approach and flexibility. Rachel explains, “We are a people-people type of company and have proven, especially over the past few years (!), that we can adapt quickly and work together to support our clients with the challenges they come to us with”.

The ADS commercial and team is made up of highly experienced and knowledgeable business development professionals who have an intimate understanding of the local oil and gas market and extensive experience of international projects. Our business development managers work hand in hand with the Technical Team to ensure that our client’s requirements are fully understood, allowing us to provide technical training and consultancy solutions that fully meet the objectives and exceed expectations.

We pride ourselves on having a team of highly experienced staff instructors with the technical expertise and teaching qualifications to support your training requirements.  Our instructors all have extensive operational experience in the oilfield that includes former drillers, drilling supervisors, drilling engineers, rig managers, completions engineers, wireline and coiled tubing operators.

Alongside our core group of instructors and engineers in our technical team, we have a dedicated in-house technical development and QC team who continually upgrade our training material, develop new graphics and animations and deliver our computer-based learning products.

Our clients are to thank for our innovations over the years. As a solutions-focussed company, we thrive on being able to support our clients with their training goals and ambitions.

If you are looking for professional support and independent advice in order to improve the safety and performance of your drilling and well operations, please contact us.