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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Academics & Research

Offshore drilling innovations easier to access in new research database


Mechanical engineering graduate student Graham Mullings took the role of a project manager. | Courtesy of Graham Mullings.

The UH-affiliated branch of the Ocean Energy Safety Institute recently developed and launched an online database of cross-disciplinary technology research in order to iullingsprove offshore projects’ safety.

The database, named the Ocean Energy Technology Portal, aims to make existing research readily available to companies and professionals across the board, especially in the field of offshore energy. This database has the potential of improving productivity and the safety for both the workers and the public.

The project was led by Paul Robinson, a program manager for the OESI. Robinson found that most companies in the field were working independently with little cooperation or exchange of knowledge, which led to a waste of resources.

Robinson gathered a team of UH students in order to see OETP, as well as other projects to completion. Mechanical engineering graduate student Graham Mullings took the role of a project manager and Sarah Castany, a petroleum engineering alumna, joined the team last August.

OESI is a part of the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. It was created after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which is considered the largest accidental marine oil spill in the history of the petroleum industry. OESI is funded by the federal government and is affiliated with UH, Texas A&M and the University of Texas at Austin.

“If there was a technology developed by any other industry that could’ve prevented that incident, the question is, why wasn’t it used?” Mullings said, referring to OETP’s inception. “And if it wasn’t available, what channels could have been open in order to usher this technology into offshore oil and gas operations?”

Mullings outlined three areas on which OESI focuses its work. The first area is the oil and gas sector itself and solving the problems that naturally arise in the industry. The second area is preparing the next wave of engineering professionals for the work in the field. The third is making sure that the safety inspectors are equipped to find the potential threats to safety before an incident occurs.

According to the website, the portal includes research done by NASA, BSEE, National Energy Technology Labs and the European Space Agency. OESI reached out to other organizations as well, including international and private companies, to request partnerships and make their research available through the database.

“A lot of technologies that we decided to incorporate into the database came from, obviously, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, then we looked into Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, medical industries,” Mullings said.

The portal is currently still in a testing phase and is expected to have its full release before it is presented at the Offshore Technology Conference 2016 in Houston May 2-5.

OESI plans to make OETP available to University students, as well to facilitate research and give them a way to keep up with innovations.

“It’s oil and gas, and energy companies that we’re getting this information from, but this is a database that will be useful to everybody,” Castany said.

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