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Omani student comes third in global contest

SQU pupil secures top position in Texas competition

Gulf News

Muscat: Rayah Rashid Al Hattali of Sultan Qaboos University has won third place in the global student paper contest organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers in San Antonio, Texas, this year.

According to a SQU press release, Rayah’s paper was based on her postgraduate thesis in petroleum engineering titled “Experimental investigation of enhancing oil recovery in fractured carbonate rocks using date molasses as renewable feed substrate”.

This thesis was done under a microbial enhanced oil recovery project in SQU. The project was done under the supervision of Dr Yahya Al Wahaibi, Prof Saif Al Bahry, Prof Abdul Qadir Al Shafie and Dr Ali Al Bimani and academics from the Colleges of Engineering and Science at SQU.

The sub-regional level of the contest for contestants from Oman and the UAE was held in Abu Dhabi on December 21 last year. Rayah won first place. She came second in the regional level contest for the Middle East, North Africa and India, which was held on April 3 in Abu Dhabi.

Explaining her paper, Rayah, a masters’ student from the Department of Petroleum and Chemical Engineering, said that microbial biomass selective plugging is one of the proposed mechanisms for improving reservoir sweep efficiency in highly fractured reservoirs.

In her work, the potential of Bacillus strains isolated from oil-contaminated soil from the Sultanate of Oman was tested for their ability to grow in induced fractures in carbonate rocks and to divert subsequent injection water to the upswept matrix zones.

“Using core flooding experiments, 27-30 per cent of the residual oil was produced after 11 hours of incubation,” the student said.

“This shows the high potential of using microbial biomass for selective plugging in fractured reservoirs,” Rayah added.

“In the international stage I added more work to be presented, the use of date molasses as renewable feed substrata for bacterial growth. The results are consistent with the previous work. It shows a total oil recovery of 28.57 per cent,” she said.

Rayah expressed her gratitude to Dr Hanaa Al Sulaimani, and Dr Sanket Joshi, her colleagues at SQU, and her family for their support for her successful participation in the SPE contest. Rayah, who graduated from SQU in 2010, subsequently won a scholarship from Petroleum Development Oman to do masters’ degree in petroleum and natural gas engineering at SQU which she completed in February 2012.