BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN — His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah has lauded Universiti Teknologi Brunei’s growing research capability after it inked a contract with Brunei Shell Petroleum to perform sand production control testing.

During UTB’s eighth convocation at the International Convention Centre on Monday, the monarch said controlling sand during hydrocarbon production has been BSP’s most costly technical challenge.

UTB signed the three-year research contract with BSP in April to investigate sand control techniques and production from oil wells by developing new laboratory tests and advanced numerical simulation.

The project will also offer scholarships to students and provide jobs to graduates, said the sultan, who is also chancellor of UTB.

UTB is collaborating with Imperial College London to provide mathematical analysis and 3D computer simulation, as well as the University of New South Wales to develop the testing laboratory.

“One of the aims of the project is to create a commercial sand screen testing facility at UTB providing new and more efficient tests to identify how to reduce sand production by selecting proper downhole sand screens,” UTB said on its website.

UTB graduates pose for a group photo after their convocation. Photo: Infofoto

UTB improved its global rankings this year, rising 29 spots to secure the 350th place in the QS World University Rankings.

The varsity is also ranked 40th, up from 51, in the list of 500 young global universities under 50 years.

UTB vice-chancellor Professor Hjh Zohrah Hj Sulaiman said this year the university has had to implement blended learning — a mixture of in-person and online learning — due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even under these circumstances, students’ learning has been minimally affected, she said, adding that graduates have had to prepare to enter a challenging post-university world.

The university awarded 307 degrees this year – 216 bachelor’s, 89 master’s and two PhDs.

This year also saw UTB award two students a Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, and Doctor of Philosophy in Civil Engineering, for the first time.

As part of COVID-19 measures, UTB graduates and staff were required to get tested for the coronavirus before they were given the green light to attend the convocation.