“It’s very difficult to explain something like that in a classroom or even with a video,” Department Chair Marshall Watson said. “This enables students to get very close and actually see the operation on the rig. The students themselves would not be operating rig machinery. We would actually have crews and people out to do that.”
The move to add those teaching and research components comes after several years of additions to the property such as classroom space, an oilfield tank battery and gas well. These new non-producing wells will be 1,500 feet to allow education on how the drill pipe is put together and how equipment is taken in and out. Watson tells KCBD that Patterson-UTI Energy, Inc. and National Oilwell Varco have donated the rig equipment to place over the wells.
“No other university has a complete campus like we have on the Oilfield Technology Center that’s set up for teaching,” Watson said. “No body else has that. We would be far beyond anyone else if we have a drilling rig and service rig in addition to that to teach the students. No one has anything close to that, much less an operational drilling rig on campus.”
The new additions would also be to the benefit of area community colleges. Watson said Tech was in conversation with South Plains College, Odessa College and Midland College to use the facility and join in funding the crews to operate the rigs.
“This benefits them from the aspect of vocational training, being able to take people who want to go into the oil and gas field on rigs and do so in a matter where it’s a very safe environment and a very controlled environment where they are trained to do so,” Watson said.
The exploratory drilling requires approval from the Texas Railroad Commission. Watson tells KCBD that Tech’s administration is working to secure all legal requirements and comply with the permitting for all three wells. He expects this to be complete by the summer.
Watson said this is only more of the great opportunities, like on-campus visualization labs, that Texas Tech provides to prospective engineers.
“I think this is something that I think students are attracted to Texas Tech petroleum engineering for, is the fact that we do emphasize hands-on learning and the ability to see exactly what we are teaching,” Watson said.