Universiti Teknologi Brunei (UTB) recently signed a three-year research contract for the Provision of Numerical Sand Screen Modelling and Facilities with Brunei Shell Petroleum Company (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.

On hand to sign the agreement were UTB Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah Haji Sulaiman, Vice-Chancellor of UTB and BSP Managing Director Dr Ceri M. Powell, further recognising UTB’s rapidly increasing capability in engineering research.

“This is a very significant moment for a young and dynamic university. 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,” said Professor Zohrah.

UTB Vice-Chancellor Professor Dr Hajah Zohrah Haji Sulaiman signing the contract with BSP individually at UTB, Image: Courtesy of UTB.

Controlling sand during production has been one of the biggest challenges faced by BSP due to the nature of the regional geology in Borneo, said UTB in a statement.

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,” said UTB in the statement.

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.

Dr Ceri M Powell on her part said that BSP is proud to continue its collaboration with UTB, placing 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,” she said.

Managing Director of BSP Dr Ceri M Powell signing the agreement with UTB individually at her residence. Image: Courtesy of UTB

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.

Moreover, UTB will also need to recruit local researchers and technicians.

Chair Professor in Petroleum Engineering at UTB Professor Stephen Tyson said that the institution’s aim is to encourage some of the fantastic talents it has in the sultanate.

“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,” he said.

He concluded: “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”. – Analisa Amu



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