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UW and Drilling Systems Collaborate On Innovative Facility

November 6, 2017
Drilling simulator equipment in a facility
Drilling Systems has assembled the UW Drilling and Completions Simulation Laboratory in Houston for training purposes. (Drilling Systems photo)

The University of Wyoming’s College of Engineering and Applied Science (CEAS) will become one of the most technologically advanced institutions in the world thanks to an agreement with Drilling Systems, one of the world's top simulation companies.

In September 2017, it was announced that the university will partner with Drilling Systems to construct the Drilling and Completions Simulation Laboratory. This new lab will be featured in the Engineering Education and Research Building (EERB), planned for completion in 2019.

The memorandum of understanding signed by both Drilling Systems and UW outlines the partnership principles agreed upon by the parties. The company and UW will combine expertise to generate solutions to the energy industry through simulation, visualization, modeling, consulting and training.

The MOU states: “Drilling Systems and its affiliates will seek to support the University of Wyoming and any of its identified affiliates to ensure it has access to the most up-to-date technologies to gain market advantages and be recognized as a Tier-1 university in the field of engineering and beyond.” Furthermore, the company and UW will collaborate on “joint strategic projects that seek to further the vision and business productivity of both organizations on an international scale.”

As a world-leading technology company, Drilling Systems will provide the university with exclusive access to emerging technologies and the ability to influence the development of future products and services that may benefit both parties. In return, UW provides insight and thought leadership across a range of identified programs currently residing within the university structure.

“This is an exciting development for our university and state, and all UW students and faculty,” CEAS Dean Michael Pishko says. “It illustrates the commitment we have to making our college a destination for top-flight education and research. The Department of Petroleum Engineering at UW is positioned strongly to be a preeminent program on the global stage.”

While the facility won’t be fully completed until 2019, the center’s equipment is being assembled and will be housed in a research facility in Houston, Texas, which provides opportunity for faculty to train and learn about the hardware and software. In addition, the UW Shell 3D Visualization Laboratory will be utilized to introduce new visualization techniques and computer and theoretical modeling, which includes the enhancement of downhole modeling as it relates to oil and gas.

“Working with the university on this project over the last 18 months has been an absolute pleasure," Regional Director for Drilling Systems Jim Krupa says. "Dean Pishko’s vision and professionalism, backed by (UW) President (Laurie) Nichols, the UW Foundation Board and (Wyoming) Gov. (Matt) Mead, has been unrivaled. Drilling Systems is honored and proud to have our technology and services contributing to the University’s Tier 1 initiative.  It is exciting to be involved in developing the next generation of oil and gas engineers.”

UW engineering alum and Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, and STEM Integration Task Force co-chair Tom Botts, who began his career in the oil and gas industry as a completion engineer, believes the facility will help UW graduates hit the ground running.

“This facility will demonstrate what happens during and after the drilling phase,” he says. “The technology in the oilfield never stays still—it moves all the time. The technology in this facility can be updated in real time. There are things happening here in Laramie, Wyo., that aren’t happening anywhere else.”

UW will continue to use its current drilling simulator facility, located in the Energy Innovation Center. That equipment will then be moved to the new lab space, and new features to be added will include a dual cyber chair drilling and well control simulator, simulators for wireline and coiled tubing, along with a workspace formatted to house large classes. An instructor at a central command center can control all the units.

“It’s going to be very versatile,” says Doug Cuthbertson, a professor of practice in the Department of Petroleum Engineering who oversees the drilling simulator. “This will show what happens after you drill, which is an important part of well planning and the full well lifecycle experience. It’s fairly significant.”

The center will allow the department to create a master’s and Ph.D. program in drilling and completions, which would complement what it does now. Currently, other institutions like Texas A&M, Colorado School of Mines, University of North Dakota, Louisiana State University and The University of Oklahoma have similar technology in place, but when complete, UW’s facility will stand alone against any in the world.

“We’re taking the biggest step to make a supercenter,” Cuthbertson says. “This may only be rivaled by one such facility in the world. Students who get to use this will be more prepared than their counterparts.

“This will teach them how to do things and how to plan. They need to know what this equipment does and why it’s designed this way and how to work it into a drilling plan in a safe and efficient way. There’s a lot of benefit to doing this. This new facility will allow for some in-depth analysis, design and research.”


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