This year, one of our student chapter member, David Kutas was able to attend two conferences in Norway, on the first one he represented MUL at the annual HSSE Challenge, on the other he presented his second OnePetro registered paper about the Macondo blowout. You can get a little personal glimpse how the whole opportunity was realized.
Let me start this story from very far and very abstraction! People often think that petroleum engineering and especially drilling is a field where everything goes just so smooth and easy and it is an easy engineering field compared to i.e. computer engineering or even to reservoir engineering where most of the things are abstract, therefore every term or idea feels highly technical. I think it is totally wrong because of the following: the involved risks and other unknown and uncontrollable factors create an environment where there is no room for failure.
I’ve always been obsessed with blowouts. Not because of their catastrophic consequences (that is kind of sad actually) but a blowout really shows to us what powers, risks and consequences we are possibly and directly dealing with in petroleum engineering. These consequences are highly undervalued (or at least were back in the days before Macondo) and the vast majority of the industry is “only” focusing on the prevention of these possible risks and realization of consequences. I believe that it is not the right way to deal with it and avoid future events like the first and (so far) last. This is the reason why I spent my entire summer sitting in my room and trying to understand how that particular blowout was stopped, what options we would have today, and how it would be possible to get better.
And now comes the understandable part!
I have attended two major conferences in the last 10 days in Stavanger and Bergen in Norway helped by the department.
In the first couple of days I have been participating in the second industry wide HSSE Challenge in Stavanger during the 16th SPE International Conference and Exhibition on Health, Safety, Security, Environment and Social Responsibility. It was a particularly good conference and event since many of the young professionals can come together, meet each other and see what knowledge level we have. Seven teams were participating in the HSSE challenge which had 3 sections: Health, Safety and Security, and Social Responsibility. During each sections 2 or 3 teams were facing each other by getting numerous “fast questions” regarding the given section’s most important abbreviations, terms, regulations, general concepts.
After the challenge, every team has been awarded by ExxonMobil with valuable gifts and a confirmation of participation sheet signed by Nathan Meehan and the CEO of SPE. Ah, and of course, Nathan Meehan has also made a selfie with some of us!
On the next day, I could also take a day visit at Statoil’s Business center where I could introduce my Subsea Petroleum Containment System concept (which I has been working on in the last couple of months next to the paper) and participate in numerous speed datings and presentations. It was also a great venue. The meeting at Statoil is maybe projecting a viable way forward for us to be more innovative: come up with startup ideas, concepts, share openly with others, learn from each other, get more entrepreneurial spirit, make a company and change PE for the better.
Next to the whole day programs of course there was a bit of time for fun. The Stavanger Oil Museum is a great place to understand offshore and petroleum engineering.
After leaving Stavanger, the more interesting part of the journey came for me since I have been invited to present my second OnePetro registered publication on the SPE One Day Seminar in Bergen. As I mentioned in the second block, I have been working on this paper for a quite a lot of time, here is the story why and how: we had Offshore Technology lecture last year, and in the last section of it we had a lecture with John Turley who walked us through how the Macondo blowout has occurred. It was an amazing presentation. Then, before the lunch break during Q&A, I asked that what happened after the blowout has started: “how did they solve it? Are we going to cover it too?”
He replied something like this:
No, we are not going to talk about it since there are a load of sources available about it and focus should go on prevention, to prevent events in the future by learning and identifying the reasons of failure.
So, I walked into this after I got back home. I went looking at OnePetro but could not find anything, anything at all. I was particularly interested in how and what the industry learned. I could not accept that we should focus on “only” prevention since I believe the biggest tragedy of Macondo is that it still affects the everyday life of nature and millions of humans by the contaminated areas in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, I kept looking and the capping stacks came into the picture and then after a couple of weeks I found not much, but a bit of sources on how the problem was solved, what technologies, what culture represented the approach and then more and more things came into the picture… I came to the conclusion that this field is highly under-researched and the actual technology (namely the capping stack as the centerpiece of response capabilities) nowadays may not be the ideal solution. Then, I came up with a technical concept, which I was then able to present in Aberdeen and recently in Stavanger, and I also carried out a research focusing on what and how the stop of the outflow has happened, and what are the possible ways forward.
So, the paper was born, and the first conference I found was in Bergen. Then, I submitted an abstract, and I got in! It was a great feeling and a great payback for the interest of mine.
The EPoster presentation went well, attendees appreciated the work. The seminar has also held good other presentations on i.e. heavy kill muds and oil based mud kick recognition.
As a learning I can only encourage you to do what you love, where you think you have no limits, where you are unstoppable. Just do it, and it will turn out to be good, if you really like what you do. Do not afraid of failures, have courage to write, this paper has its very own failures too, but hopefully I will have a chance to make it better, or continue on this field. Regarding a specific conference paper. Work on those nasty sentences, make your thoughts the world and SPE is interested in your view. When you have something meaningful it is easier to share than you think.
The paper is available here to download (download it from school, it is free there) from OnePetro.org:
Subsea Blowout Source Control Technologies Utilized at the Macondo Accident and Developments in the Post-Macondo Era
Document ID: SPE-180018-MS
Written by David Thomas Kutas, BSc; Philip Bailey, MSc and Michael Prohaska, PhD.