From the old, something new

Published on 14 August 2014 in Culture
Ali Abulohoom (writer), Ali Abulohoom (photographer)

Ali Abulohoom


Ali Abulohoom

A group of seven students at Hadramout University built Yemen's first model drilling platform which can be used to teach future students how petroleum platforms are functioning‭.‬

A group of seven students at Hadramout University built Yemen's first model drilling platform which can be used to teach future students how petroleum platforms are functioning‭.‬

University students in Hadramout build model drilling platform using recycled goods


Seven students from Hadramout University have excitedly moved back and forth between their university, the blacksmith, and a welding workshop for over a year, putting together machine parts, eager to realize their plan of building a model drilling platform.

Students at the university’s Petroleum Engineering Department have traditionally submitted written and theoretical work as their graduation project. The completion of a model drilling platform constitutes the first time that students have chosen to work on a practical project instead.

“Every student comes up with different ideas for the graduation project. We decided to make our project practical rather than theoretical,” says Al-Samei, a member of the student project.

The model drilling platform, which contains all the parts and equipment found in real platforms, is three meters long, two meters wide, and able to dig down two meters deep, Waleed Al-Areeqi, the head of the student project, proudly explains.

Abdullah Baradi, dean of the Petroleum Engineering Department, compliments the project, saying “it can be used by the students in the future, as the model is perfectly able to operate and dig.”

The importance of using the model drilling platform for teaching purposes is also emphasized by Al-Areeqi, who highlights the need to link theoretical studies with more practical aspects. He complains that students’ education often falls short of practical insights and experience gained in the field, as most drilling platforms in Yemen belong to international companies and it is sometimes difficult to coordinate field visits with them.

Mazen Al-Yahri, the supervisor of the project, confirmed that the model will be enlisted to teach future students how petroleum platforms are functioning, what parts it consists of, and how those parts work.

Remarkably, the student group relied on recycled material in producing the model drilling platform. Long searching for second-hand parts at blacksmith and welding workshops, they turned parts of old cars, trucks, and winches into usable components of the model drilling platform.

Baradi admires that students relied solely on recycled material, avoiding ready-made parts that are often imported and fairly expensive. As the students themselves explain, it was both for economic as well as environmental reasons that they decided to rely on recycling. “We wanted to show that we could turn abandoned materials into useful things,” Al-Areeqi explains.

Pointing out the potential of their project and wide environmental significance, Al-Areeqi adds that, with the exception of very specific parts, drilling platforms could be built with recycled material. No oil company representative has yet seen their project.

Al-Yahri praised the students for their creativity and emphasized that the model drilling platform was built in only a year, whereas “it may have taken several years had they used conventional methods.”

“We are inspired by these students who teach us that everything is possible if there is determination and will,” he said.

The Petroleum Engineering Department at Hadramout University is the only department in Yemen that is specialized in petroleum. It was established by the government in an attempt to benefit from oil resources found in the governorate. The department’s students who are lucky enough to get a job commonly work in one of the oil companies operating in the region.