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College Q&A: UHV, PCI remain committed to well-control training three decades after creation

By By Jeremy Shapiro
June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.


When driving by University of Houston-Victoria's buildings on Ben Wilson Street, I've noticed the sign for Petroleum College International. What is that, and how is it connected to the university?

It's not a widely known fact, but the world's longest continually operating oil-field well control simulator can be found at the University of Houston-Victoria.

The simulator has been in operation since 1983. While the name of the organization has changed, the basic premise has always stayed the same, said Frank Klepper, president and senior instructor of Petroleum College International.

"For 30 years, we've taught the basics of well control and how to use equipment to keep wells from blowing out," he said.

Sharing a building with the UHV Athletics Department at 3302 N. Ben Wilson St., PCI is an organization providing oil-field training in well control, drilling and production operations. PCI typically trains supervisory-level staff from just about every major oil-field company.

"Oil-field personnel spend four to five days at PCI learning the equipment and the pressure requirements for any particular job," Klepper said. "Then, they use the simulator for hands-on practice. We discuss difficult, complicated concepts. There's a lot of math involved."

For the first two decades of its existence, the operation was called the Petroleum Training Institute. The institute initially was part of the University of Houston-Victoria Campus Division of Continuing Education.

"UHVC was part of UH at that time in 1981, but there was a push to become a separate entity," Klepper said. "A requirement from the state was to establish a Division of Continuing Education."

In 2001, the division was restructured into the Regional Outreach Center. It appeared the Petroleum Training Institute would be a casualty of the change. Fearing his days were numbered, Klepper created and incorporated PCI and went looking for a new home. He didn't have to go far.

In a meeting with former UHV President Karen Haynes, Klepper presented the idea of providing the same programs in the same building but doing so under contract.

With Haynes' blessing, Klepper and Wayne Beran, UHV vice president for administration and finance, worked out a deal that remains in effect today. PCI pays rent, leases the simulator and updates UHV's copyrighted well-control training manual.

The manual is used at other training sites in Texas, Louisiana and North Dakota and can be taught in traveling schools internationally.

"It's been a good working relationship," Klepper said. "We operate as a commercial venture but still use the UHV program. That gives us a lot of credibility because people recognize us as one of the oldest, established well-training programs."

Do you have a question about the University of Houston-Victoria? Contact Jeremy Shapiro, UHV communications specialist, at 361-570-4296 or shapiroj@uhv.edu.

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