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Raising the Mast

January 11, 2023

Raising the Mast

(VIDEO) After years of work to put a functional oil rig on campus, Texas Tech has finally achieved its goal.

Raising the Mast

It took years and a lot of generosity from alumni, but Texas Tech University has finally raised the mast on the first full-scale, fully operational, modern drilling rig on a U.S. university campus. 

Working in conjunction with the Texas Tech Foundation, the Bob L Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering raised the 140-foot mast on the structure at the East Campus Oilfield Technology Center last Friday (Jan. 6). 

“It was built to give our students hands-on experience in the oil field under a controlled environment where we have total safety,” said Petroleum Engineering Department Chair Marshall Watson.

The raising of the mast required a pulley system with a weight load of more than 200,000 pounds and faculty from petroleum engineering were joined by donors and representatives from the Texas Tech University System as the structure was raised and pinned to the platform. 

Raising the Mast

The substructure of the drilling rig was then raised 25 feet and shifted forward into its operational position. 

The raising of the mast is a significant step in the placement of the rig on campus and follows a lengthy process of preparing site for the rig and having the piece brought in by truck to assemble. Construction of the rig was taken slowly to ensure a safe working environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors. 

The oilwell drilling rig will be functional though it was placed over previously drilled wells and the primary function of the rig will be as a training tool for students. The rig is fully functional including the circulation system and all standard equipment including tubulars, which are standard on modern drilling rigs. 

The well the rig was placed over was drilled under the supervision of Texas certified professional engineers working in the petroleum engineering department at Texas Tech. The well is not open to any formation, with steel casing run and cemented in place from the base of the casing to the surface. 

Raising the Mast

The rig is fully electric and is powered by the Lubbock electrical grid but has three diesel generators on hand as backup power sources and as part of the learning experience for students. 

Generators are often used on drilling rigs in the field where local power supplies are not available.  

All parts of the drilling rig and the work required to assemble it and drill the wells on site were donated to Texas Tech by Edward E. Whitacre College of Engineering alumni and industry partners.   

Raising the Mast

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