Texas Tech leaders hope to strike black gold – and give petroleum engineering students some literal in-the-field experience at the same time.
The university made history on Friday by raising the 140-foot mast on the first full-scale operational oil rig on a university campus in the nation. The rig is located on Texas Tech property off the central campus at what is now called the East Campus Oilfield Technology Center, 1051 E. Loop 289.
Donated and funded exclusively by alumni, the oil drilling rig came in pieces in 45 truckloads from all across the State of Oklahoma, said Marshal Watson, chair of the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering at Tech.
Watson said the project has been more than two years in the making.
But the vision for the oil rig actually started in 2000, Watson said, with one goal in mind – to elevate student education.
“They are able to see touch, feel, hear the real equipment utilized in the oil field,” he said. “It’s to take the material out of the textbook and bring it to real life.”
The safety of the students has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind when constructing the rig, Watson said.
Normally, rigs can be constructed in days, he said. However, Tech took its time over the two years to evaluate each part to ensure they are up to code.
“It was built to give our students a solid experience in the oil field under a controlled environment where we have total safety out here,” he said.
The rig is also fully electric, and will draw power from the Lubbock power grid. It’s also fully equipped with three backup generators.
After raising the 140-foot mast into its upright position, Watson said the team will then lift a substructure an additional 25 feet into the air to be to install the blow-out prevention equipment.
Once all is said and done, he said, graduate and undergraduate students will be able to visit the rig this upcoming spring semester, when they will learn from the machine while also being environmentally conscious, focusing on the ethics and methods of sustainable oil drilling.
Watson said the world capital of carbon capturing is in the Permian Basin and originated in West Texas, where Texas Tech is teaching students how to do so along with new innovative ways of doing the job such as geothermal drilling.
“Our motto at Texas Tech petroleum engineering – be a part of the solution,” he said.
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