30 April 2020 – Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) signed a three-year research contract for the Provision of Numerical Sand Screen Modelling and Facilities with Brunei Shell Petroleum Company Sendirian Berhad (BSP). The contract is to investigate sand control techniques and production from oil and gas wells by developing new laboratory tests and advanced numerical simulation.

Yang Mulia Professor Dr. Dayang Hajah Zohrah binti Haji Sulaiman, Vice-Chancellor of UTB and Yang Mulia Dr Ceri M. Powell, Managing Director of BSP, signed the agreement which recognises UTB’s rapidly increasing capability in Engineering research. “This is a very significant moment for a young and dynamic university,” said Professor Zohrah, “BSP has, in awarding this contract to UTB, expressed confidence in our ability to deliver world class research to solve one of Brunei’s most costly technical challenges”.

Controlling sand during production has been one of the biggest challenges facing BSP due to the nature of the regional geology in Borneo. It is an expensive problem shared by many energy companies all over the world. During production of hydrocarbons, sand is held back from entering wells by wire screens, somewhat like the wire mesh in a coffee cafetière, but the selection of the best screen is highly technical, needing to be optimised considering many factors – upfront numerical modelling and computer simulation are increasingly key to success.

This is a truly international research activity, centred on UTB. UTB is collaborating with the Imperial College, London, UK to provide mathematical analysis and 3D computer simulation, and the University of New South Wales, Australia to develop the testing laboratory. One of the aims of the project is to create a commercial sand screen testing facility at UTB providing new and more efficient tests to identify how to reduce sand production by selecting proper downhole sand screens.

“BSP is proud to continue our collaboration with UTB. It places the university at the forefront of critical, innovative and digital research, enabling new skillsets for Bruneians whilst maximising value with new local capabilities. No longer do we need to have screen retention testing done thousands of miles away. It can be done here in Brunei, by Bruneians contributing to the Industrial Revolution 4.0” said Dr Ceri M. Powell.

The project will offer more than twelve postgraduate scholarships to local students at both Master’s and PhD levels and involve many petroleum engineering undergraduate students of UTB. UTB will also need to recruit local researchers and technicians. “Our aim is to encourage some of the fantastic talent we have in Brunei. There are some very tough technical problems in the petroleum industry here and we expect our students to study these because they will need to solve them when they graduate” explained Professor Stephen Tyson, Chair Professor in Petroleum Engineering, UTB. “BSP has been very supportive of our initiative for young Bruneian engineers to take ownership of these problems. We are working very closely with their technical staff to teach our students the skills they need to solve Brunei’s engineering challenges”.

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