UTPB gets boost for drilling fluid lab

The local and national chapters of the American Association of Drilling Engineers have pledged a total of $80,000 for the University of Texas of the Permian Basin’s petroleum engineering program.

Professor of Petroleum Engineering Abdallah Harouaka said the local chapter provided $40,000 over two years, which was matched by the national AADE. The hope is that the university or someone from the oil and gas industry will provide enough to reach $160,000.

“About a year ago, we talked about lab equipment; the drilling fluid lab equipment more specifically. We came out to some kind of an agreement to make a list of equipment we need for that specific lab,” Harouaka said. “We made two lists, depending on the money available. Our ultimate list is for $160,000.”

The equipment they started with was donated to UTPB some years ago. They took what they could salvage and had it refurbished by Ofite.

“Now with the growth of the program, it’s a full-fledged department so we are beefing up our labs, or trying to,” Harouaka said.

The drilling operation is abrasive, he said.

“You have the drilling bit that grinds the formation, grinds the rock, grinds the reservoir rock,” Harouaka said.

The fluid drillers use is called drilling mud and the idea is to cool off the tool and remove the cuttings to the surface.

“We teach our students how to measure the basic properties of that drilling fluid … like density and viscosity. The lab is taught in conjunction with the drilling engineering class,” he said.

The program is in its sixth year and not well known, but Harouaka noted that it is ABET accredited. ABET stands for Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.

He added that it’s vital to have that accreditation because employers will not talk to a student if they are not attending or graduating from an ABET accredited institution.

Harouaka said he is hoping to obtain the lab equipment before they move into the new engineering building near the Wagner Noel Performing Arts Center in 2019.

This coming fall, UTPB is starting new programs in chemical and electrical engineering.

“The main floor is allocated to mechanical; the second floor is for petroleum; and the top floor will be shared by electrical and chemical,” Harouaka said. “We expect to continue to grow with the addition of new programs. Engineering is definitely going to reach new heights, if I may say so.”

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