Romania Wrap-Up

This post is a day-by-day breakdown of the Summer 2017 Romania Study Abroad trip led by Dr. Catalin Teodoriu. The summary of the days and the pictures in the post were all written and taken by students in the program. This should provide an accurate account of what to expect from the course.


Summers in MPGE are a busy time. Faculty and staff work on projects to improve services for our students and enhance their classroom experiences. It is, also, a time when students have an opportunity to venture outside of the university and take part in educational programs through internships and study abroad programs. With the help of the Mewbourne College of Earth and Energy, MPGE students have been fortunate to learn petroleum engineering skills and actively experience other cultures through studying in various locations around the globe. For the second year, Associate Professor Catalin Teodoriu has taken a group of students to his home country of Romania to learn Monitoring, Diagnosis and Maintenance in the oil capitol of Ploiesti. Through their own words, students Eric Alldritt, Sawyer Campbell, Ryan Pezeshkian, Erik Pienknagura, Robert Velasco, Annie Shen, Saket Srivastava and Hamill Williams share their experiences with you below:

Note, Monday June 5th is a Holyday in Romania therefore we use the day to meet each other and get full introduction from Dr. Teodoriu and Yoana Walshap, our study abroad coordinator. On Tuesday we have got a full review of our drilling and completion knowledge that will help us to better understand the current class. We also got information about the logistics within the city and what to do at the University.


Wednesday, June 7

Today was our first day of class in Romania. Dr. Teodoriu introduced us to schematics of mud pumps, as well as demonstrating how an oil pump works by using a scaled model of the original device.Sensors were placed on the pump so as to maintain the optimum flow rate as the rig is drilling; pump vibrations can have a negative effect on the life of equipment. After the lab, we met Prof. Minescu, The University Vice-Rector for International Relations, before heading into our lecture over drilling equipment. To reinforce the materials in the lectures and labs, Dr. Teodoriu will be giving us in class exercises to work on as a team. Today, we had to  name examples of bearings found on equipment.

Thursday, June 8

Today, we arrived at Ploiesti University of Petroleum and Gas  and received a tour of the campus followed by lunch in the canteen. We, also, met the local student who will be taking the course with us. Our first classroom period exposed us to classic drilling equipment followed by a lecture from Dr. Teodoriu. He discussed hoisting systems including the classical pulley system as well as hydraulic lift systems, and introduced us to equipment such as drill pipes, drill bits, crown block, drilling lines, traveling blocks, and mud pumps. We also spent time on a fun activity that taught the importance of technical drawing skills to accurately describing the functions of these pieces of equipment. The equipment shown was locally made and used, which supports the industrial side of Ploiesti’s bustling oil industry. Up until 1990, Romania was the third largest producer of oil equipment in the world. We were given instruction over the basics components of a drilling rig to help us understand the fundamentals of the equipment we will be diagnosing.

Friday, June 9

We started early today by going to the museum Palatul Culturii (The Palace of Culture). It is a building of historic significance in the city of Ploiesti that has survived the passage of time. Originally the Palace of Justice, this French styled building began construction in 1906 but was halted due to the Balkan War and World War I. Building resumed in 1924 with a local architect at the helm. The building was completed in 1933 and opened by King Charles II. In 1951, the building was given its cultural complex status. It has survived two major earthquakes in 1940 and 1977 and bombing during World War II. Today it houses the Library Nicolae Iorga Popular School of Art, Museum of Ethnography and Cultural Scientific University. While touring the museum, we discovered facts about animal species as well as human evolution. For example, the common name of the green butterfly shown in the picture is “Ornithoptera Priamus”, which is also known as “Queen Alexandra”. Regarding human evolution, we learned that Homo Erectus, which means “upright man”, was the first species to walk on two feet like modern humans. For lunch, we went to a place called “Pizza Jinx” where most of us tried our best to translate our favorite toppings into Romanian. We concluded the day with our afternoon lecture from on the importance of Mechanical Specific Energy (MSE). We learned that a lower rate of penetration results in a higher MSE, keeping in mind that the deeper we go, the lower the rate of penetration. Another important aspect we talked about was

that if the weight on the bit (WOB) and revolutions per minute (RPM) are known, then ROP can be calculated by using reverse engineering. Finally, the last topic discussed in class was vibrationsand their effects in the drilling process, in which, sometimes, trend lines can be difficult to estimate. In those cases, estimating the average of the data points can be very useful.

Saturday, June 10

Another early start for us! We drove to Sinaia, 40 miles northwest of Ploiesti. Sinaia a popular destination for tourists during the winter for skiing but, also, is summer favorite in Romania due to its beautiful Peles Castle and the Sinaia Monastery. After parking, we walked to the castle to get taste of local culture, and even stopped to buy some fresh, local berries to snack on along the way. We were blown away by the beauty of Peles Castle, which was built as a summer house by King Carol of Romania. The castle is a unique blend of German, Italian, Persian, as well as Romanian, architecture, and is home to the Peles National Museum. Visitors can view intricately carved woodwork, a collection of weapons and armor, paintings, furniture and other pieces that decorate the rooms of the castle.  We enjoyed a long lunch at a local eatery and soaked in the fresh mountain air before visiting the monastery, founded in 1695. The town Sinaia received its name from the monastery, which was named after St. Catherine’s Monastery on Mount Sinai in Egypt. There are two churches within the complex, the Old Church from 1695 and the Great Church built in 1846. Like the nearby castle, Sinaia Monastery is filled with priceless works of art and decoration. Before getting back on the road, we tried our luck at bargaining for local souvenirs.

Our next stop was Brasov, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Romania. After checking into our hostel, we regrouped to explore city center. Nestled within the Carpathian Mountains, Brasov has lively cafes and a black, gothic church that serves as a backdrop to the vibrant energy coming from locals as they dance andplay music in the streets. We ended our day with a quiet dinner in one of the local cafes where we tried mici, a Romanian dish of grilled meat. We went to bed very tired from our full day of adventure, but were excited for tomorrow’s adventures to begin.

Sunday, June 11

Checking-out early from our hostel, we met Dr. Catalin on our way to the cable cars along the side of the mountain. As we walked, we crossed old streets and saw rustic houses with hundreds of flowers blooming in their yards. The city is made up of small, two-story houses adjacent to each other, all colorful and unique in style. We rode the cable car up into the mountains to get an aerial view of Brasov, which was once a fortified city and, thus, planned to be compact and efficient. It was picturesque, to say the least! We ate at a restaurant at the mountain’s top, and met its star attraction, their Carpathian shepherd dog; native to Romania, it is so huge that it can fight bears. Afterwards, we rode the cable car back down the mountain and drove to Bran Castle, popularly known as Dracula’s Castle, where we took a tour. The exhibits told the real-life history and legends surrounding Prince Vlad Dracul, also known as Vlad the Impaler who would become known to the world as Dracula, during his 15th century rule. The rest of the afternoon was spent browsing the local shops and buying souvenirs. This day trip offered a wonderful opportunity to talk with Dr. Catalin about Romanian history and what his experience was like growing-up here. All of us enjoyed our weekend away and were amazed at how much Romania has to offer. We can’t wait for our next outing!

Monday, June 12 by Erik Pinagura

Today we continued our class schedule with laboratory time in the morning followed by afternoon lecture. Today’s experiments covered the topic of material strength and properties. First, we learned about the iron-carbon chart and the different properties of material depending on their carbon concentration, temperature and which technique was used to cool the material. Depending on the application, different material strength is required and even alloys are created to enhance a specific property of the material or reduce it. To monitor this, different techniques have been developed such as the Brinell hardness test, Vickers hardness test, and through machines like the scanning electron microscope, which gives a precise digital view. The last two experiments of the day concerned stress testing and wear because strength and durability are very important factors when choosing which material to build drilling pipes and bits from. The afternoon lecture taught us about the sensors involved while drilling, and we were given an assignment to choose two setups with a complete range of sensors and determine the minimal numbers of sensors needed to perform drilling operations. The answers, of course, will be shown to us throughout the remainder of our course here in Romania. 

Tuesday, June 13 by Ryan Pezeshkian

As authors Sheilah Kast and Jim Rosapepe write in their book Dracula is Dead, “Ploiesti is the heart of the Romanian oil industry. As you drive north from Bucharest toward the mountains, oil derricks begin appearing on the horizon. Texans and Oklahomans feel right at home”. One fact most people are not cognizant of is Romania’s long history within the oil and gas industry. To remedy this, we started our day at The National Petroleum Museum located in Ploiesti; opened in 1961, it is the only museum focused solely on the history of oil in Romania and takes visitors through time to show how Romania grew this industry. We were lucky to be able to see the museum due to its temporarily closure to the public. Through its exhibits, we learned that, from the very beginning of time, oil had been used in several aspects of life including medicine, construction, and combat. As early as the 1400’s, it was documented that the Romanian province of Moldova had been attempting to search for oil. Other provinces started their search in 1517, noting that everything at the time was done by hand and not machinery. 1857 marked an important year for the Romanian oil industry. In that year, the first refinery produced oil by-products were created, with 275 tons of oil in that year alone. It was also the year that Romania reported its reserves, making it the first country in the world to report such a high number. Finally, 1857 was the year Bucharest became the first city to ever light its street lamps with oil. Next, we visited the famous Clock Museum of Ploesti. Founded by Professor Nicolae Simache, the museum has been a top tourist attraction since 1963. In 1971, the museum was moved to its current location, former home of late Romanian politician Luca Elefterescu. This architecturally magnificent home houses more than 2,000 clocks ranging from sand glass, sundials, water clocks, graduated oil lamps, candle clocks, table clocks, wall clocks, pocket watches, pendulums, cuckoo clocks, and many more. Our day ended back at the university to attend a short lab and view a pipe testing facility that Dr. Teodoriu helped establish. We were exposed to both a horizontal and vertical set up for different tests that involved testing for bending, compression, internal collapse pressure, and temperature resistance. We also were shown examples of collapsed and damaged pipes. Classroom time was wrapped up with a lecture on vibrations along with monitoring and diagnosing drilling equipment. 

Wednesday, June 14

We started today at 9:30 a.m. with a visit to Cameron, a Schlumberger company. Cameron Romania S.R.L. was built in 2009 after outgrowing their former home in Campina, which was bought by Cameron in 2004 but had an extensive 100+ year history. Cameron still operates both these plants in Romania. The Ploiesti facility is known for developing pressure control equipment for surface, subsea, and drilling and the development of completions rig equipment like the wellhead and Christmas tree. What I found significant about this facility was that they can pressure test up to 45K psi and have a great record for health, safety and environment. They’ve won 7 Citadel Awards for 6 years in a row, from 2011 to 2016, and with such awards, they’re the only company in the world that has such consistent awards on safety.  They rely on Quest, a safety management system that aids in risk identification and prevention, and they have logged more than 4.1 million man-hours with no incident! Our guide, Joseph Berry, an Industrial Engineer and OU alumnus, explained to us the cladding process and described the history of the plant as it progressed from solely producing Cameron wellheads to include Schlumberger fracturing pumps. One interesting piece of technology discussed was the Cameron Block Christmas tree that was forged to limit potential leak points. Another very interesting aspect of this plant was their SIT (system integration testing) facility. Measuring 10m x 10m x 15m, Cameron is able to provide a kind of integration showcase and test for customers. This facility was especially designed for the BP Clair Ridge project set to be completed in the UK over the next few years.

Thursday, June 15

Our laboratory visit for the day was to the machine shop, where we saw the Fanuk milling machine. This advanced piece of machinery runs on G code, a computer coding language. The machine houses a set of tools that can be automatically switched for specific uses such as position calibration of the metal block as well for milling. We also saw a demo of a facing operation on the sample block. The spindle rotation speed of the milling tool can be controlled as per the finishing roughness required and the allowable bit wear. The Fanuk can accommodate multiple blocks for simultaneous mill work. The professor who demonstrating the machine also teaches G code as a part of the engineering curriculum. Next, we saw the lathe machines that had revolver cartridges with 7-8 tungsten carbide lathe cutters. The machine code helps in a precise lathe operation. The newest advancement includes the machines capability to memorize the operation to make repeatability easier. These machines are widely used in the industry and it was a wonderful opportunity to get a closer look at them. Knowing how they work is definitely an added advantage for us. We had class from 5:15 P.M. The focus was on visual inspection and communication skills. We worked in teams to describe pipe wear situations to other teams in order to test our teamwork and communication efficiency. The Romanian students had a good knowledge of technical drawing and were more descriptive in their approach. Pipe wear is critical to well safety and it takes years of experience to detect it. It was very informative to look at examples while learning about visual inspection. Next, we were taught about the importance of proper make up of connections, as they form an integral part in well safety. From dope selection, to application, to make up method used, as well as well conditions, each play an important role in the make up process of OCTG.

Friday, June 16

Field trip to Moreni and Targoviste

On Friday, the team went on a tech visit to Bonatti International and OMV Petrom. We were shown the manufacturing center where Bonatti reworks pump jack equipment and the fencing used on these pump jack sites. The photo below is of me with an OU flag in front of one of the many pump jacks! You can see the Christmas tree assembly, the horsehead, the walking beam, and the counterweight. After talking to the engineers, one of which had worked on this and other sites for the past six years, we learned that one of the parts that sees the most wear is the gearbox. The gearbox drives the crank shafts with counterweights, and, if the weights are off, the system will need repaired in shorter time than if the weights were set accurately. This was a great trip into the field to get us up close to these pump jacks and give us a better understanding of what we’ll use our education for. After finishing our site visit, we went to Targoviste, an early capital of Romania. We had hoped to catch the fair that was being held there, but we arrived a little a litle too early before all the vendors had finished setting up. So, we decided to have lunch at a restaurant nearby instead. The pictures below are show the ruins of the Princely Court, former home to Vlad Tepes (Dracula) and a view of the ceiling of the church adjacent to the ruins (still in tact) that Vlad used to attend. It’s amazing to see the preservation of the church and the integrity of the building. There is a tomb in the church and centuries old frescos of royalty and paintings of saints revered by the Romaninan Orthodox Church.

Monday, June 19

On Monday, we visited Professor Diana Cursaru in the Lubricating Laboratory at the Oil and Gas University of Ploiesti. We learned about the different elements of the industry that are taught in the university, and we focused on the petroleum processing elements and tests. After the petroleum is recovered, it must be separated before processing to gas, oil and water. Further processing is required to remove salt content and Sulphur. During refinement, the first option might be atmospheric distillation followed or replaced by vacuum distillation. For even more refinement processes we have thermal cracking, pyrolysis, visbreak, liquid-liquid extraction, hydrotreatment, catalytic processes, and others. The final product (gas, gasoline, diesel or other components) depends on the process. Quality is measured through an index; we discussed the Viscosity Index, which is important for lubricating products. Finally, we measured the lubricity of a specific sample. By using a plate, a bowl and the sample the machine, we were able to cause wear to the plate and analyze and measure it. Since this procedure is standardized, it can be used and compared in many locations with similar results. After 30 minutes, we started to see some wear and the friction coefficient values in the table. Upon completing the experiment, a value of 218 micro-meters was obtained, after one hour a value of 436 micro-meters would be expected, which is the standard time for a test of this nature.

Tuesday, June 20

Today, students had the opportunity to visit the Petrobrazi Refinery, a Petrom OMV facility. The plant is important to Romania as 95% of the total crude oil processed here is from domestic

production. Last year, it had a total capacity of over 4.5 million tons per year. The facility is quite large spanning over 4 square kilometers. We were given a presentation to learn a little background information about the refinery. It opened in 1936 but more than ¾ of the plant was destroyed during WWII. It was recommissioned in 1961, and has been continually growing its activities ever since. Current products produced by the facility include propylene, propane/butane, gasoline, jet A1 (high grade jet fuel), diesel, CTL (heating fuel), sulfur, electrical currents, and coke (basic material for manufactured welding electrodes used for heating). We were, also, told about some of the company’s logistics such as 69% of products were transported through railroads, 30% transported by truck, and barely 1% transported by pipelines. All of this was followed by a guided facility tour to see the various units scattered throughout the plant.  Next, we had lunch in the city center of Ploesti with Dr. Teodoriu at a restaurant called Tres Olivios, which served a range of tapas and entrees. Afterwards, we headed back to the university for our final lecture over maintenance and monitoring. For a final challenge, we were presented with a maintenance exercise in Romanian, which we (the OU students) had difficult but fun time deciphering. Before leaving, we posed for a final group photo with our Romanian peers. Overall, we had a fun time learning in Romania and discovering its culture.

We have had also the final exam, but is not a story to tell about.

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