University of North Dakota’s drilling and completions lab provides unique insight for students

University of North Dakota's petroleum engineering lab
University of North Dakota's petroleum engineering lab(KFYR)
Published: Feb. 7, 2022 at 7:22 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (KFYR) - The University of North Dakota’s petroleum engineering program is home to one of the world’s largest full-scale oil drilling and completions labs which is helping to prepare students for the real world.

Soon, this triplex mud pump will be running at UND’s drilling and completions lab. In the meantime, students have worked to assemble this and other pieces of machinery to create a full-fledged test facility.

This setup in Grand Forks will be able to test drill bits and mimic drilling at 16,000 feet deep. This training facility is what has attracted students from all around the world.

“In India, we don’t have well equipment or labs over there, so when I saw this for the first time it was like I was seeing a rig in the field,” said Kripa Venu, a petroleum engineering student.

Since last summer, more than 50 students looking to further their degrees in petroleum engineering are getting their hands dirty to learn the inner workings of the machines they’ll be a part of in the future.

“I’ve been working my heart out here. When I see it and get to know how they run, it literally changed my entire understanding from what I got out of the books,” said Vasanth Gokapai, a petroleum engineering student.

It’s an experience like no other.

“To actually get their hands on it I think brings it to the real world. When you study books and you study numbers that’s good in theory and everything but when you actually get out here and do it, it changes your perspective a little bit,” said Harry Feilen, drilling and completion labs director.

And one they’ll never forget.

“When all of this comes together and starts to work, that will be an achievement for me,” said Gokapai.

The petroleum engineering program and the lab have the backing of the state’s industrial commission and were recently given the “outstanding achievement” award from the Williston Basin American Petroleum Institute for the impact it has brought to the Bakken. The program, which began in 2010, is the 3rd most popular doctoral program for enrollment, and officials say it’s only getting started.

Feilen says the drill bit could be turning by the end of the summer semester. Down the line, he also wants to create a “proving ground” to show students what life on the rigs is really like.

Copyright 2022 KFYR. All rights reserved.