Technology Focus: Drilling and Completion Fluids (November 2016)
- Badrul Mohamed Jan (University of Malaya)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- November 2016
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 45 - 45
- 2016. Copyright is retained by the author. This document is distributed by SPE with the permission of the author. Contact the author for permission to use material from this document.
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This year marked the third year after completing my tenure as the deputy director of the University of Malaya Center of Innovation and Commercialization (UMCIC). UMCIC is the technology transfer office at the University of Malaya (UM), which is responsible for protecting UM’s inventions through intellectual-property registration such as patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. Despite that, this year remained a busy and challenging year for most academics and researchers, specifically in Malaysia. Unstable oil price has a great effect on Malaysia, where the economy largely relies on the petroleum industry, reducing the research-funding assistance from the government. In fact, research funding has been slashed, and the university is expected to generate its own income. Apparently, it is time for the university to restrategize its research endeavors.
Many of us were surprised by the collapse of crude-oil prices in 2014. Even though oil price currently seems stable at almost USD 50/bbl, it is still volatile.
Maria Gallucci highlighted in her business column in International Business Times magazine the fact that scientists at Louisiana State University (LSU) were working on the Tuscaloo Marine Shale when oil was approximately USD 100/bbl. The Tuscaloo Marine Shale is a large rock formation in the middle of the state believed to hold billions of barrels of crude. Many oil and gas companies were keen to embark on the research study, which mainly focused on the shale’s geological nature and potential drilling prospects. However, today tells a different tale. According to David Dismukes, executive director of LSU’s Center for Energy Studies in Baton Rouge, the interest has dissipated before eventually vanishing. The outlook in getting new projects in the private sector is slim to none. There is a similar outlook in other parts of the US, where research funding is severely battered by the low oil price. It is part of the long-term and broader initiative to slash costs. In most academic settings, innovation and exploration activities are shrinking if not halted.
As they say, we not only need to work hard, but also, and most importantly, we need to work smart, especially during this trying time. With shrinking budgets and limited resources, partnerships and collaboration are considered the best options. It is no secret that universities and industry have a special platform to work hand-in-hand. Successful partnership between universities and industry can be realized only through innovation, knowledge, and technological findings. In Malaysia, for example, for the past 3 years, the government has initiated a specific program called Incubator Industry-University, or I2U. Under the I2U program, special funding was allocated to two research universities to build an incubator that provides special spaces with sufficient supports for researchers to develop their prototype before entering the real market. UM has been selected as one of the pioneers of the program. Some of the incubator spaces are also reserved for real industry players to create real industry working environments within the incubator. A specific space is also reserved for service incubators, which refers to space meant for industry to provide its upstream oil-and-gas-specific services, such as pressure/volume/temperature fluid testing, core-test analysis, and material-testing studies. Such an arrangement would bring industry and the university closer than ever before, and both parties will benefit. Industry, specifically the small/medium industry and the small/medium enterprise with a very limited budget, will have the opportunity to access much specialized and state-of-the-art equipment available at the university. In short, it is an ideal route for a win/win collaboration. JPT
Recommended additional reading at OnePetro: www.onepetro.org.
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