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University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering

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Energy Companies are Cutting Costs, but UH Engineering Professor says Now is the Time to Spend

By: 

Audrey Grayson

More than 94,700 experts from the offshore energy industry gathered at NRG Park in Houston for the 2015 Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), held from May 4-7. During uncertain times within the energy industry as oil prices fluctuate between $50 and $60, one of the central themes of the 2015 OTC was how to cut costs while ensuring that oil is produced as safely and efficiently as possible.

But as energy companies are looking for new ways to slash budgets, a professor at the UH Cullen College of Engineering is encouraging industry to spend more in an op-ed article published in the OTC daily newspaper on May 7.

Phaneendra Kondapi, KBR adjunct professor of subsea engineering at the UH Cullen College of Engineering and senior technical advisor at Granherne-KBR, encouraged energy companies to invest time and money in field development planning and flow assurance research and development in his article, titled “Time to focus on efficiently improving cash-flow assurance.”

“If the oil flow stops, the revenue stops. The more it stops, the more cash is lost. Therefore, production flow assurance can be termed as ‘cash flow’ assurance,” Kondapi mentioned.

Flow assurance is essential to oil field development as well as to petroleum production throughout the life of field. Future subsea engineers, then, must understand the principles and practice of flow assurance in an offshore environment, Kondapi said.

“But the success of future flow assurance depends on the development of technologies that can enable cost efficient and environmentally friendly applications while contributing to increased earnings, production and improved recovery, enhancing and prolonging the use of existing infrastructure,” Kondapi wrote in his article.

The time is now for companies operating in the offshore sector to invest in research and development for new flow assurance technologies, Kondapi said. “Innovative and cutting-edge technologies are the key strategic enablers of future competitiveness,” he mentioned.

Kondapi will be traveling to Newport Beach, Calif. from June 1-5 for the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Flow Assurance – The Future State of the Art forum, an invitation-only event bringing together the world’s top technologists, innovators and managers to address specific industry challenges and discuss new technologies for the future success of flow assurance. Kondapi, who serves as the committee chair for this SPE Forum Series: Frontiers of Technology, will also be managing two  sessions at the forum titled “Where will we be in twenty years?” and “How does our future success of flow assurance impact the economic recovery limits?”

“How do we make industry aware that this is the time to spend money on investigating flow assurance strategies and flow assurance R&D for a fraction of the cost of all the recent budget cuts that energy companies are making?,” Kondapi asked. “We need to be asking ourselves where we want to be in 20 years. If we don’t think about it now, we will never get there.”

Access Kondapi’s full article in the May 7 issue of the OTC daily newspaper at http://2015.otcnet.org/files/otc15_thursday_lr.pdf.

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