9 June 2022 - 17:37
  • News Code: 457940
NISOC Eyes PDC Technology

TEHRAN (Shana) -- Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) requires application of modern technologies. Although Iran's oil industry has faced sanctions in recent years and has been prevented from having access to many of these technologies, Iranian oil companies are seeking technical knowhow through cooperation with international companies or Iranian universities. The head of R&T division of National Iranian South Oil Company (NISOC), Mohammad Golestan-Bagh, tells Iran Petroleum that efforts are under way to develop knowhow for the manufacturing of polycrystalline diamond compact (PDC) bits.

Here is the full text of the interview Golestan-Bagh gave to “Iran Petroleum”:

Could you tell us about the current status of the university-industry relationship?

Communication with universities is the most important topic of research and technology. In other words, it is the gateway for universities, knowledge-based companies and science and technology parks to industry, research management and technology. A review of the relationship between industry and university in recent years shows that, unfortunately, the favorable and effective relationship between universities and industry has not yet been formed, and both groups are seriously concerned in this regard. Science production is a process whose origin is university. As science is developed and transformed into knowhow in the university, this knowhow is applied through an engineer and becomes a skill in industry. Skills, technology, and knowhow are updated with effective communication between academia and industry, which, in other words, must be accompanied by intelligent awareness, and this does not happen, or at least does not happen effectively. Intelligent awareness, no matter how much it meets the needs of the industry, can help develop skills. What we are seeing now in the industry is that skills are growing with experience, that is, a junior staff learns skills by accompanying experienced staff, while experience alone is able to update skills, techniques. Knowhow is not a specialty, in other words, the chain of the process from science to skill is not well established.

What are your plans to prevent a breakdown of the chain of process?

Our suggestion in this regard is to form a technology network based on knowledge and skills. This technology network monitors the skills and experience of knowledge inside and outside the industry to identify the challenges of the industry for universities, and on the other hand, identifies technology, innovation and capabilities that meet the needs of the industry. Let’s provide you with an example. In a large and national project of the country, it took two years to set up a piece of equipment. The story was that this equipment had been dormant for two years due to non-operation under the pretext of sanctions and non-compliance with the commitment of a foreign company. Later, an incident led us to find out that the skill and experience of launching this equipment was in the country two years before. In other words, the lack of a network for recognizing skills and industry leaves many of our needs unmet today. Obviously, if there was a technology network, the system would not be challenged to find this capability. Therefore, this interactive network should be formed among researchers, science and technology parks, universities, knowledge-based companies and industry.

Is the formation of a technology network designed?

We are currently working on the initial design, localizing a number of foreign and non-local networks in line with this design. Once completed, this project could be piloted in oil-rich areas, and if it has the desired results, we recommend it to National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) and even other parent industries in the country.

Do you believe that no relationship between industry and academia has been formed?

It has definitely been formed, and the projects that have taken place in the oil industry and the successes that we have had in this field, confirm this. But we are looking for more effective communication, one that is smarter, more effective and more colorful. The process of turning our challenge into a research project at the university is now very time consuming. For example, it may take 2 years for a university to submit a research proposal for a challenge, because communication is weak. If we can use networking processes, we will have effective communication with universities.

What is the current status of NISOC’s research with universities?

Currently, NISOC R&T Division is implementing 37 research projects in 11 sectors: reservoir management, drilling, process and processing, construction, geology, energy efficiency, industrial protection, IOR/EOR, ICT, studies and human resources. We are also about to sign 10 other research agreements. Of course, faculty members’ studies, research projects, and master's and doctoral dissertations are another important element in strengthening the industry-university relationship.

What are your plans for acquisition of the latest technology in the world?

The first way in this direction is to use the elites abroad as intermediaries in science and technology. We have a number of Iranian elites in the world's leading universities with high capacity. Another way is to use the capacity of memoranda of understanding that some of our universities have signed with some universities and knowledge-based companies and technology companies around the world. The atmosphere of sanctions may show itself in economic issues, but it is less revealing in scientific and academic matters, and this atmosphere can be used to turn the university into a technology point of entry.

What are NISOC’s technology acquisition plans?

NISOC is also planning to acquire the latest technology in the world through universities under the technology network. Currently, 10 to 12 technological needs of the company have been identified and are being monitored so that we can provide them to some universities by signing memoranda of understanding.

To what extent are NISOC’s technological needs locally filled?

For the purpose of meeting technological needs, NISOC’s R&T Division is steering key projects on domestic manufacturing of turbines, electrostatic desalting, and PDC bits. PDC drilling rigs are considered as one of the strategic goods in the drilling industry. PDC drilling bits are currently manufactured by a few countries possessing the necessary technology, and so far no major research activities have been carried out to develop the technical knowledge of manufacturing them in the country. The result of this project will be the acquisition of PDC drilling technology in the country. This size of drill is one of the most widely used sizes of this type of drill. Considering the annual consumption of 130 matrix body drills with a size of 1.2 inches in the country, according to the calculations made in the roadmap, the implementation of this project will save the country $1.17 million. Making and testing this size of drill could be the first and foremost step in making other sizes of PDC drilling bits. Meanwhile, considering the sanctions and the Petroleum Ministry’s plans regarding the development of the country's oil fields, planning and investing in the production of drilling bits in the country could be considered an important step in achieving the goals of the country's oil industry and play a significant role in domestic industry. This project is based on the provisions of the research regulations of the Petroleum Ministry in such a way as to find access to valuable economic knowledge and technology in several sectors and to register an international trademark. In this way, in addition to meeting the needs of the company in a completely indigenous and reliable way, generation of national wealth is achieved by producing a high-tech product and presenting it to international markets. The general vision of this project is the domestic production of PDC drilling bits and the registration of an international trademark, which is expected to achieve two phases of executive operations, the first phase of which is the implementation of a research project and the second phase of mass production of PDC bits. The basis of technical knowledge is developed and approved by the employer. At present, the study phase, design, supply of required materials and equipment, as well as molding and fabrication of the test drill sample have been successfully completed and are in the field of field testing and drill performance.

Give the significance of EOR, what are your research plans to that effect?

Defining and managing EOR projects is one of the most important goals and research and technology programs that are being planned in the form of the same technology network and the university's relationship with industry and the fullness of technology-based processes focusing on well-based and reservoir-based technologies. In other words, we are looking for work processes, that is, if the work process is reformed, it will cover all important issues, including EOR, maximum efficient recovery, energy management and efficiency. I emphasize that the work process should match the whole structure. In recent years, during two phases, 22 major research contracts have been concluded between NIOC and academic / research centers, of which 10 pertain to NISOC-run areas. “Conducting research and technological studies to develop technologies to optimize production processes and enhance recovery” from the Ahvaz, Bibi Hakimeh and Rag Sefid fields was assigned to the Research Institute of Petroleum Industry (RIPI), the Gachsaran field to the Petroleum University of Technology, the Mansouri field to the University of Shiraz, the Kupal field to the Sharif University of Technology, the Karanj field to Islamic Azad University, the Masjed Soleiman field to the Sahand University of Technology, the Binak field to Ferdowsi University and the Maroun field (Bangestan) to the Isfahan University of Technology. Under these agreements, the selected universities and research centers were required to adopt a research approach based on the latest technologies in the world, to lead all activities necessary to enhance/improve recovery from the relevant fields within 10 years. In this regard, managers and experts in the oil-rich southern regions have used all their facilities and capabilities to achieve the goals of this project. So far, more than 150 NISOC experts have participated in the process of these projects. The first package of 6 contracts that have been awarded in the first stage, including Ahvaz, Bibi-Hakimeh, Gachsaran, Mansouri, Kupal and Karanj fields, has been completed, and fast-track studies of these fields are nearing completion. Furthermore, the first package of 4 new contracts, which includes Rag Sefid, Binak, Maroun and Masjed Soleiman fields, is underway. The first package of these contracts includes identifying field challenges and screening methods for EOR/IOR. EOR/IOR contracts are also in the form of 5 work packages: field recognition, field modeling and simulation, specialized experiments, simulation model modification and pilot design. In addition, the IOR package and construction of upstream equipment are included in the service descriptions of some research consultants. The initial oil volume of these fields is a large fraction of the total primary oil volume of NISOC, and only one percent increase in recovery from these fields will be equivalent to $135 billion. Recently, modifications of the executive processes of these contracts from field-to-technology-based, focusing on well-based and reservoir-based technologies, with the aim of establishing specialized technology institutes in the upstream field, has been on the agenda. A working group has been formed at the level of the Petroleum Ministry to further study the matter.

The issue of reducing environmental pollutants has now been raised and the approach of major oil companies has changed in this direction. What are your plans in this regard?

Unfortunately, future research topics are not seen in the research structure. On the other hand, the value chain with a unified view is missing in the structure of the Petroleum Ministry and NIOC. The value chain consists of a series of production and support activities. For instance, value chain support activities include corporate infrastructure, human resources, technology development, commodity supply, and manufacturing activities, including marketing and sales, services, internal and external logistics, and operations. The more the value chain process is addressed, the more integrated the production process will be. The issue of the environment that you mentioned is usually in the form of associated gases (flare), management of effluents and wastes or contaminated oil soils. It is interesting to know that in the process of network production, the value of these items is seen as wealth. For example, there is currently a proposal for the use of oil-contaminated soil, or in the case of oil effluents, which according to some predictions and scientific articles states that three barrels of effluent will be produced per barrel in the future, so there is a need to manage this issue. It is possible to manage these cases with value chain and value added and these cases should not be looked at point by point. Environmental problems can undoubtedly be solved by implementing projects as a value chain. We have prepared a plan for the creation of a value network and a value-added network, the preparations for which had already been prepared, but we are going to formally implement it with one of the universities in the country as an integrated and comprehensive study plan. The initial proposal is that the value chain view in the body of the Petroleum Ministry should be integrated, i.e., there should be a division in the body of the Petroleum Ministry based on which all the processes of the oil industry upstream to downstream create value and that the value chain would be extended to small organizations.

Does the budget of the research department cover the expenses of this sector?

The proposal we have for a research budget is a floating budget, a budget for which there is no ceiling, in other words, a profitability that seeks to meet the need. This requires a financial model. Currently one of our challenges for working with universities is the same contractual and financial issue, we cannot combine research issues with current non-research projects. Certainly, the current research budget is not enough given the expectations from this section. At the same time, no matter how much is spent in this sector, it will be useful, and the money spent on research is a source of wealth and certainly not a cost.

What plans does NISOC have in using renewables?

The first suggestion is to add this category (renewable energy) to the research and technology structure of NISOC, so there is a need to review the structure. Efforts should be made to make the research sector, which is in fact the future of an organization, more prominent. Of course, now suggestions have been made in this field, such as the use of solar energy technology, hydrogen fuel, and so on, for which there should be a mechanism and planning.

Courtesy of Iran Petroleum

News Code 457940

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