Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Vietnam's Petrol University learns from University of Louisiana

Oil industry know-how shared
Vietnam group learns from UL engineering program

The state's proximity to the Gulf's offshore oil and gas production and the petroleum engineering program at UL has attracted the attention of the Vietnamese government in its efforts to create a university to build a workforce for Vietnamese offshore industry.

A delegation from PetroVietnam, the country's oil and gas company, visited UL's petroleum engineering department on Monday.

"Our core task is to find potential partners" for the endeavor, said Nguyen Dang Lieu, vice president of PetroVietnam. "We seek partnerships with corporations and the university."

By 2009, the government would like to start the first phase of Vietnam Petrol University, said Lieu.

Like Louisiana, the country's production is focused offshore.

Lieu said the country's annual production is 24 to 25 million metric tons.

Monday afternoon, the small delegation visited the department's reservoir mechanics lab.

UL petroleum engineering lab manager Randy Andres explained to the group the importance of showing students how pieces of equipment work.

"A lab manual is not enough," Andres said as he pointed to a schematic that detailed one piece of machinery - a liquid permeator.

"If I explain the mechanics of how it works, they understand it and they can follow the flow," Andres said.

As technology changes the industry, it's still imperative that students learn the "fundamentals," UL petroleum engineering department head Ali Ghalambor told the group.

As it formulates its plan, the delegation is also visiting three other universities in the United States - Texas A&M, University of Oklahoma and University of Tulsa.

Ghalambor said the group seeks assistance developing curriculum and resources needed to build a program.

"They're trying to build from their foundation and find a support structure and support services," he said. "We have made some suggestions during their visit."

Its partnership with a U.S. university will include sending its students to the U.S. for graduate study to develop a corps of faculty to teach at the new university, Lieu said.

He added that undergraduates will have opportunities to study in the United States as well to learn innovations in the industry.

In the coming year, the government would like to finalize its plans and start developing the program in 2008 to start the first phase of the program in 2009.

"We'd like to begin as quickly as possible because of our country's shortage of workers in oil and gas production," Lieu said.

PetroVietnam, known as the Vietnam Oil and Gas Corporation, was created in 1975. The company is a governmental entity and oversees all facets of oil and gas production in the country.

The first exploration activities in Vietnam were in 1960. Natural gas was first discovered in 1975.

From 1988 to 2001, PetroVietnam signed 43 petroleum contracts with about 50 companies for offshore and onshore exploration.

The company has more than 19,000 employees.

- Source: PetroVietnam Web site at www.petro