Curtin Sarawak petroleum engineering students win mud challenge

The students working together in the laboratory to come up with the most ideal drilling mud.

The students working together in the laboratory to come up with the most ideal drilling mud.

MIRI: Eight petroleum engineering students of Curtin University, Sarawak Malaysia (Curtin Sarawak) participated in the recent Oil & Gas Competition and Exhibition (OGCE 2015) at Universiti Teknologi PETRONAS (UTP), Perak, and a team comprising three of them came up top in the Scomi Mud Innovation Challenge held in conjunction with the four-day event.

The students were Lim Kean Chuan, Teh Ean Nee, Lee Yong Ler, Oliver Theseira, Mohammad Anas Ashraf Gagai, Chong Yun Jia, Genevieve Ann Tang Tuang Kah and Kho Cheng Hong.

They were accompanied by lecturer of petroleum engineering and advisor to the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Student Chapter of Curtin Sarawak, Dr. Mohamed Ali Hamid.

Lim, Teh, Lee, Theseira and Mohammad took part in the Scomi Mud Innovation Challenge while Chong, Tang and Kho participated in the Paper Contest, another of the event’s competitions.

In the mud challenge, the students were required to design a water-based inhibitive mud based on a case study given and calculate the minimum volume of drilling mud to be built. They were allocated a two-hour lab session to carry out a test and collect data.

According to them, the most challenging part was selecting and optimising the amount of additives to be added to the drilling mud to address issues such as high pressure high temperature (HPHT), rate of penetration (ROP) and fluid loss.

Their resultant drilling mud was adjudged the winner based on its mud properties such as density, rheology, gel strength, filtration and ph degree, beating those of other teams from the United Kingdom, the Philippines, Cambodia and Indonesia.


(from left) Lee, Teh and Lim receiving their mock cheque from representatives of SCOMI and OGCE organising committee member.

(from left) Lee, Teh and Lim receiving their mock cheque from representatives of SCOMI and OGCE organising committee member.


Meanwhile, in the Paper Contest, the Curtin Sarawak students were among the top 15 finalists. Chong presented a paper on ‘Screening Criteria of Chemical Enhanced Oil Recovery’ while Kho and Tang presented papers entitled ‘Proposing an Engineering System for Mud Weight Determination in Deep Water Drilling’ and ‘Evolution of Inhibitors for Drilling through Reactive Shale Formation using Water Based Mud’ respectively.

The three second-year students were the youngest among the competitors and received good feedback from the judges who complimented Curtin Sarawak on the high standard of its Bachelor of Engineering (Petroleum Engineering) course.

Apart from taking part in the competitions, the students attended other events held in conjunction with OGCE 2015 such as an oil rig model presentation and a career fair where oil and gas companies provided consultation and information on career opportunities and advancement in the industry.

They also attended a forum with the theme ‘Breakthrough in Business’ and a panel of speakers from UTP, PETRONAS, Halliburton, Baker Hughes and UMW Oil & Gas Corporation Berhad.

According to Dr. Mohamed, the speakers’ perspectives on the oil and gas industry gave the audience useful insights into the challenges faced by the industry.

“Where employment is concerned, the industry cannot entirely control the oil and gas market but students can strengthen their knowledge and technical skills to enhance their employability. Different job markets are expected to undergo recession periods at some point in time, just like the oil and gas market. They just need time to rejuvenate,” he said.

Meanwhile, Curtin Sarawak senior lecturer of petroleum engineering Dr. Stephanie Chan Yen San, who was one of the adjudicators for the event’s Baker Hughes Petroquiz, remarked that the OGCE 2015 received a good response from ASEAN universities and really helped the participants’ develop their technical knowledge.

“As the participants came from different ASEAN countries, it brought a more competitive edge to the competition. Our students’ success in the Scomi Mud Innovation Challenge reflects not only the quality of our students but also the undergraduate petroleum engineering course offered by Curtin Sarawak,” said Dr Chan.

Commenting on their participation, Theseira remarked that students should adopt a ‘nothing to lose’ attitude where regardless whether they win or not, the ultimate goal is to gain more knowledge. Teh, meanwhile, said winning competitions is one way students can stand out from the crowd as well as enhance their resumes.

The students expressed their gratitude to Curtin Sarawak’s Faculty of Engineering and Science for providing the opportunity to participate in OGCE 2015, particularly Dr. Mohamed, Dr. Raoof Gholami Mian Poshteh and Associate Professor Moacyr Bartholomeu Larucci of the Department of Petroleum Engineering who provided them much guidance as they prepared for the competitions.

For more information on Curtin Sarawak, visit its website (, its Facebook page (Curtin University Sarawak Malaysia), Twitter profile (curtinsarawak), YouTube channel (CurtinUniSarawak) or Instagram (curtinsarawak).

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