Test Well

The School of Chemical Engineering gives you the rare opportunity to apply engineering principles firsthand in a test well—a first for an Australian university, and one of only a few worldwide.

Located just outside the school’s western wall, the borehole was drilled immediately prior to the building’s construction to allow rig access. It was cored for its entire depth and fully logged to provide baseline data for experiments and teaching examples. Geoscience staff and students were also involved in the well’s construction—monitoring drilling, collecting rock core samples and cataloguing them for future learning.

Today, working equipment is installed on the wellhead to assist students and researchers with their ongoing studies in petroleum engineering techniques and well management.

Created with international and industry consultation

The University of Texas at Austin (UTA) played a key role in the well’s design, providing valuable technical advice. UTA houses one of the best-known petroleum engineering schools in the world and has a teaching well in its building’s basement. Further important advice was provided by leading international oilfield services company Schlumberger and South Australia's Santos Ltd.

Schlumberger additionally brought a fully equipped well-logging truck to the site during initial drilling. Specialised high-technology instruments were lowered down the hole to measure the rock’s physical characteristics, such as porosity and density. This information provides baseline subsurface understanding for future student projects and research experiments.

Genuine industry-standard operating environment

A heavy PVC plastic pipe lining was cemented in the hole after drilling to eliminate the possibility of groundwater contamination, as required by South Australian Government regulations. The pipe encloses a commercial oil well steel pipe to provide an industry-standard operating environment.

The hole is just over 150m deep—much shallower than normal oil and gas wells, but more than deep enough to demonstrate and test real drilling, well logging and production techniques. The earth is composed of relatively soft sedimentary rock and layers of clay, silt and sand down to about 60m, with harder metamorphic basement rock below that.