Curtin students learn how oil and gas well drilling is supported by real time technology

Miri – 13 April 2011 – 31 Electrical and Computer Engineering students of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) accompanied by three lecturers visited Shell’s Sarawak Real Time Operations Center (RTOC) in Lutong recently.

The accreditation and industrial relations coordinator of Curtin Sarawak’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Tiong Teck Chai, said such visits are an essential part of the university’s Bachelor of Engineering (Electrical and Computer Engineering) programme’s curriculum.

“Such field trips to industries in the area not only complement curriculum studies in the classroom, they allow the students to interact with and acquire first-hand knowledge from industry professionals, thus enjoying a most effective and fulfilling learning experience” he said.

According to Tiong, Curtin is a forward-looking, international, research-focused and teaching university committed to excellence and innovation. As Curtin’s largest international campus, Curtin Sarawak reflects those characteristics in every way.

“Besides conducting leading-edge research that ultilise some of the most advanced technologies in the world, we combine theory with practical study and challenge traditional boundaries of learning to create graduates who are professionally competent and job-ready,” Tiong added.

Marconi Sim, RTOC coordinator and Halliburton Eurasia Pacific Real Time Operation regional manager, was on hand to receive the students. He briefed them on how the RTOC is jointly operated by Shell and Halliburton in Miri, the Shell Exploration and Production Asia regional operations being headquartered here.

“The RTOC was set up here to support oil and gas well drilling in Malaysia, the Philippines, China, Australia and New Zealand with real time technology. The centre can significantly improve oil and gas well delivery process in reducing non-productive time and eliminating invisible lost time,” said Sim, who happens to be an alumni of Curtin Sarawak and Curtin University in Perth.

Sim went on to explain that the RTOC provides services like collaborative well planning, predictive modeling, drill string analysis and 24/7 monitoring.  Well planning uses 2D and 3D software to provide visualisation on subsurface, drilling data and well trajectories.

The students were most intrigued with how the RTOC facilitates collaboration in well planning and decision-making among engineers, geologists and geophysicists. Drilling engineers and an Advance Drilling Technical (ADT) team then create predictive engineering models prior to drilling events, including torque and drag, hookloads, bottom hole assembly (BHA) and hydraulics management and other means to improve drilling performance.

They also learned that, through remote monitoring drilling operations in real time complemented with 3D capabilities, surface parameter and Measurement While Drilling or Logging While Drilling (MWD/LWD) information, operators at the RTOC are able to react quickly to downhole conditions. The operators can immediately follow the defined communication protocol such as advising rig crews of changes in drilling parameters to minimise vibration and optimise drilling efficiency.

“The visit was a great experience. Besides learning about the all the latest technology used, we learned about the critical role the RTOC plays in enabling wells to be delivered safely under time and under budget, and hence profitably, to Shell. I also got to know more about job prospects in oil and gas industry,” said student Raguwaran Maniam.

The head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Associate Professor Dr. Ashutosh Kumar Singh, meanwhile remarked that, among other things, such field trips help to form strategic links between academia and industry and his department will continue to find opportunities for similar visits both within and outside Miri.

“It is one thing to learn about the most advanced technologies in the classroom, but it is a whole new experience seeing such technology being used in the real world. We want to give our students that benefit so that when they graduate and start working, they will be well versed with what’s happening in their chosen industries,” he said.

Students in the RTOC’s Advanced Collaboration Room.

Observing RTOC operators remote monitoring well drilling in soundproofed room.

RTOC operators remote monitoring well drilling around the clock.

Lecturers and students with RTOC coordinator Marconi Sim (front row, 4th from right).

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