JOHOR BARU: A local oil and gas company is lending its industry expertise to Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to develop what is believed to be the world’s first palm oil-based drilling fluid.
The collaboration between the university’s UTM-MPRC Institute for Oil and Gas, which is a recognised industrial centre of excellence, and Lekir Energy Sdn Bhd, is aimed at developing the green technology from one of Malaysia’s natural resources and provide a more environmentally-friendly alternative.
UTM deputy vice-chancellor (research and innovation) Prof Dr Ahmad Fuzi Ismail said the revolutionary fluid would take up two to three years to develop with the complementing efforts and expertise in renewable energy from both parties.
He said they hoped that the palm oil-based fluid could be an alternative to the current drilling fluid used in offshore petroleum drilling, which produces toxic discharges that are harmful to the water and environment.
He added that drilling fluids acted as a lubricant for the massive drills that could go as deep as some 3,000m to 6,000m below sea level and was one of the most important elements in offshore drilling.
“I would say the progress of the research and development has hit the 30% to 40% mark at this point.
“There is still a lot of extensive research needed to ensure that the new technology is up to par with lubricants currently used,” he said after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding for the project.
Prof Dr Ahmad Fuzi said the project was expected to bring much benefit to UTM where the Malaysia-Thailand Joint Authority recently allocated RM2.16mil for UTM-MPRC to undertake this particular research.
The company’s chief executive officer Abu Talib Abdul Rahman said the collaboration would bridge palm oil and oil and gas industries to create green fluid solutions.
Having such natural resources in our country was a gift and with our technology in place, we hope that it could contribute to the oil and gas industry in Malaysia, Asia and we also aimed to market it globally, he added.