Current Situation and Future Direction of Mineral Resources Education in Oman discussed during the Oman Mining Expo

During the Oman Mining Expo 2019 which is currently held at the Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre, Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech and Prof Dr. Frank Mattern from Sultan Qaboos University gave a presentation entitled: ‘Current Situation and Future Direction of the Mineral Resources Education in Oman’.

“With a growing mineral resources industry in Oman the demand for well-trained graduates and post-graduates in the field of geosciences will increase over the next years” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer. Therefore, applied geoscientists play a key role through the lifetime of a mining project that can take up to 20 years. Graduates in Applied Geosciences as well as specialist in Economic Geology, Geophysics, Geochemistry, and Geoengineering will have ample opportunities in the mining sector.

Over the next 5 years, approximately 70-80 graduates will graduate from both universities in Oman each year. According to internal surveys conducted at GUtech , up to 30% of these graduates consider continuing with Master studies abroad or in Oman. However, this number strongly depends on the availability of financial support for Master degrees. In countries with a developed mining industry, e.g. in the United States, the ratio between academically trained workforce in the mineral industry is 1 PhD-holder versus 2.2 Masters versus 6.5 Bachelor graduates. Taking into consideration that Oman’s basement is still underexplored, it is recommended that a high number of post-graduates can adjust standard mining methods and develop exploration programmes in largely greenfield settings.

“From a higher education perspective, a lack of mining engineers has been identified. This could be a bottleneck for future developments of the industry. During the last years, global employment rates of mining engineers were above 95%  which means there are limited open job opportunities on the global job market. From the side of the job seekers, Omani graduates are currently focusing on jobs in the oil and gas industry. It will be a challenge to create more interest in jobs in the mineral industry and attract the brightest minds” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

Currently only two higher education institutions in Oman, Sultan Qaboos University (SQU) and the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), provide advanced education for the mining industry. The education in the mineral resource sector covers principal courses in Mineralogy, Mineral Resources and Mineral Exploration at the bachelor level. Courses in Ore Mineralogy, Orebody Modelling, Mineral Production & Processing are part of a recently introduced or running Master curricula at GUtech.

The objective of the two-day mining conference is to provide a venue for the industry as well as regulators to discuss various issues and challenges as well as to explore emerging opportunities and latest developments in Oman’s mining and minerals sector.

 

Wadi clean-up organised by Applied Geosciences students

HALBAN Fourteen female students from the German University of Technology (GUtech) conducted a 10-day fieldtrip to explore and study the geology of Oman. They were guided by Prof Dr. Gösta Hoffmann from Bonn University in Germany. Prof. Dr. Gösta is a geosciences expert in the field; he has run several international projects and has been granted the national research award for his work by The Research Council (TRC). The fieldtrip logistics were professionally organised by Golden Highlands, the leading geo-tourism company in Oman.

For the students the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Most of them have never camped outside before. Another breath-taking experience was the mountain scenery the students saw when travelling in 4-wheel cars along small gravel roads through the mountains. “Driving through Wadi Bani Awf was amazing, extraordinary and exciting for me,“ said Alaa al Mahdouri, 7th semester Geoscience student. One of the better known spectacular places that the group visited was Wadi al Abbyad. Prof Gösta explained: “Wadi al Abbyad is special for a variety of reasons: it is a perennial river, meaning it flows all year. Because of this there are very special animals and plants. Furthermore, it is an extraordinary place in terms of geology. It is probably the best place in the world to actually see the interior of the planet earth. In other countries such a place would already be recognised as a National Park. As far as I know such initiatives are under way but at the moment the place has a severe issue with rubbish. People come here for picnic and leave everything behind. Luckily the younger generation is aware of the problem and the group of 14 female GUtech students started a wadi clean-up.” Aziza al Jahwari lined out: “I felt so bad to see all this rubbish in such a wonderful place. I felt much better when we started to collect the rubbish.” Shatha al Gahfri asked “Until we do not care about our planet and until when will people think this is a normal behaviour? If everyone takes his own rubbish and takes a little bit more, we will solve this issue.”

As part of the field-trip, the group of students collected 237 kg of rubbish. Most of the items collected were clearly related to picnic activities, a problem that can be easily solved. „It is the second clean-up organised by Golden Highlands, after a beach clean-up last year with the professors from the German Geological Association (DGGV).” said Prof. Dr. Gosta. “It is our company’s responsibility to keep these places and our country clean. We therefore are an eco-friendly tour company in Oman. We try to minimise the amount of rubbish during the trips as much as possible. We do not distribute soft drinks in cans and water in plastic bottles. We provide solutions for refill and the customers use one mug through the trip. This mug they even take home as a souvenir. We also avoid plastic bags when shopping for groceries but use our own re-useable Golden Highland bags. Funny enough, people want to buy our bags as well instead of using plastic bags. We might even think of a business opportunity here,” said Mansoor al Shabibi, CEO of Golden Highlands.

“The clean-up was very successful and I am very happy that this initiative was organised by the students themselves”, concluded Prof Gösta. The logistics for the wadi clean-up was supported by Golden Highlands. Mansoor al Shabibi: “As the leading geo-tourism company in the country, operating for more than 10 years now, we know that the deserts, mountains, wadis and beaches are the unique resources that our business is based on. People come from all over the world to see and study these places. If we spoil them, we lose our unique selling point. Besides that, we harm our own country.”

Mubarak al Harrasi, group supervisor of Golden Highlands said: “I am happy to be in company with the students, these are open-minded ladies, I feel like their brother. We usually cater for international guests, but it is a very rewarding job to show our local people the beauties of the country. On these trips we usually travel to very remote areas that most people have not believed to exist in Oman.”

GUtech students win the third place in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award

HALBAN Five Applied Geosciences students have won the third place in the prestigious AAPG Imperial Barrel Award semifinals that were held at GUtech in the past days. The students who are studying in the their final year in Applied Geosciences had to solve different geological tasks in groups such as analyzing a data set including geology, geophysics, production infrastructure, and other relevant materials for an oil exploration in the North Sea. “Our GUtech team with Anwaar, Jahina, Omer, Sara, and Shihab won the third place which is a great success, they worked very hard and achieved results that normally can only be expected on the level of Master Students,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences. The Department of Applied Geosciences has been hosting the annual event for the first time. On the second day, all students from competing universities participated in an excursion through the Oman Mountains, led by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari, where they had a chance to study typical reservoir and source rocks of the Arabian Platform and their structural styles in the field.

Each team had to deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts and professors. Students had the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel of judges, network with potential employers in the audience, and win cash awards for their school. The judges selected the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. The AAPG Imperial Barral Award is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the Energy Industry today.

Students from Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) won the first place followed by the Lebanese University (Lebanon). The winning team will participate in the final competition to be held in Texas (USA). Students from King Abdulaziz University, Hashemite University, the University of Jordan, Kuwait University, United Arab Emirates University and Yarmouk University participated in the competition.

(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and AGEO Department

The Dean’s List Award Ceremony – 55 students awarded

HALBAN The Dean’s List Award Ceremony was held in the large GUtech amphitheatre to celebrate the achievements of 55 GUtech students and to commemorate the 6th anniversary of His Majesty’s visit to the university. “We only recently introduced the Dean’s List as a way to recognize outstanding academic achievements. The Dean’s List is a very enviable accomplishment that is only given to our top students” said Prof. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs.

The criteria for the award were an outstanding academic achievement, the top 10% of the students, a minimum GPA of 3.5, registered for a minimum of 25 credit points, no incomplete or failing grades, no disciplinary written warning letters and an IELTS 6.0 or equivalent. Dr. Armin congratulated the students along with the Head of each academic Department. “You should be proud of the award. You worked hard, attended many lectures, and in addition spent many hours studying on your own or in groups. And it paid off. Your efforts were worth it. However, efforts alone are not sufficient to get on the Dean’s List. You also need to have the intellectual abilities that are needed for this distinction. You need to have the skills to work through complexities, solve problems, find solutions and communicate them well. Today you are being recognized for this combination of your efforts and your skills,” said Dr. Armin. Moreover, the Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs stressed that the university commemorates the 6th anniversary of the visit of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said al Said to GUtech. On the 24th of December His Majesty honoured the university with a special private visit. “We are proud of His Majesty’s recognition of our achievements. It shows how His Majesty values us as individuals, our university, our educational ethos, and the benefits that we as an institution bring to the country of Oman. Ultimately, it is through you, our students that GUtech contributes to Oman. You get a superb education here at GUtech. In a few years when you join the workforce, you will be the ones who add value to the Omani economy. And this is what makes me proud of being part of GUtech. It allows me to not only educate individuals for the sake of getting a degree, but I can help develop the future leaders of Oman. This is a real privilege,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein. Many GUtech students and friends attended the ceremony. Finally one GUtech student mentioned that this award ceremony serves as a motivational event for other students to study hard in order to be part of the list next year.

(c) GUtech: Text Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi

The following GUtech students were awarded for their outstanding achievements:

Majd Al Kayyal
Murooj Mohammed Al Busaidi
Mohammed Salim Al Haddabi
Jawaher Said Al Ghadani
Maram Mudather Mohamed
Maha Surur Al Busaidi
Halayel Ahmed Al Saadi
Aisha Salim Al Balushi
Arwa Saud Al Zadjali
Firdaus Nabil Al Barwani
Reem Said Al Mushikhi
Mohamed Saleh Al Alawi
Shadhan Hamood Al Rashdi
Sara Haroon Al Bartamani
Loay Imad Al Lawati
Husam Yaqoob Al Siyabi
Khamis Hassan
Fatma Fuad El Sheibany
Zoudat Mohamed Al Aufi
Ahmed Juma Abdulla
Khuzama Salim Al Shezawi
Badria Humuod Al Mauly
AL Ghaith Ali Al Ghaithi
Anwar Rashid AL Hajri
Fatema Nour Al Din Al Farsi
Belqees Ali Al Hinaai
Riyan Yahya Al Wahshi
Sara Tariq Al Bulushi
Maisa Mohammed Al Hinai
Lora Awadh Al Alawi
Maryam Abdul Razzaq Al Raisi
Haitham Anwar Al Rawas
Taif Mohamed Al Kindi
Eilaf Khalid Al Busaidi
Marah Khalfan Al Aufi
Abir Talib Al Kharusi
Ghazalah Nabi Baksh Al Balushi
Shurooq Mohammed Al Busaidi
Nama Yousuf Al Bulushi
Manaf Mohamed Al Raisi
Alaa Mohsin Al Ajmi
Fatema Jamal Al Busaidi
Sanad Sulaiman Al Rawahi
Mallak Yousuf Al Senani
Shaima Hilal Al Jahwari
Fatma Mohammed Al Farsi
Noorin Adil Al Busaidi
Fatma Ali Al Barwani
Ammar Abdulhameed Al Kiyumi
Sara Hamood Al Naamani
Melika Naderi
Juhaina Abdullah Al Salmi
Qatr Al Nada Abdul Rahman Al Hinai
Samahram Is’haq Al Hashli
Melina Naderi

 

Geosteering makes Geosciences faster and more efficient

HALBAN To connect the university with the industry and to present how to overcome challenges faced in the oil industry with a unique Geosteering IT software, Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan gave an ‘Industry Talk’ at the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech. “Through geosteering, many more jobs will be created in the region in future,” said Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Applied Geosciences Department.

“A modern  Geosteering software makes geosciences related to horizontal drilling  faster and more efficient,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan, CEO of ROGII, StarSteer Premier Geosteerinig Software, while adding that the software can increase in particular the precision for horizontal drilling which is increasingly applied worldwide. Through multi-well real time geosteering, data integration and cloud collaborative technologies more  oil rigs can be monitored at the same time delivering excellent well placement results. Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are currently visiting the GCC; he has been visiting Oman for the first time. Previously Dr. Vlad Payrazyan has been working on various projects in Russia, Venezuela, Brazil and in United States. “The geosciences industry has to adapt to changes and increasing challenges,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan. The world is moving from an easy drilling environment to difficult environmental challenges including tight shale resources, horizontal wells, big volumes of data, cost reduction and automatization. In addition, during the planning and drilling phase of the oil well geoscientists face various uncertainties, where a special geosteering software, such as StarSteer can support their work, through the analysis and integration of data from different sources (offset wells, seismic, chemostratigraphy, MWD/LWD, image logs, etc. real time geosteering and other cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, predictive analytics and cloud virtual collaboration.

Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are planning to support GUtech students with a special IT software and to train the students on the application. “I enjoy working with universities around the world while sharing my day to day experiences and challenges faced in the oil and gas industry,” said Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan. Five years ago together with two other partners he started the company that now employs more than 60 people in 9 international locations with over 200 clients among oil and gas operating and service companies around the world.

Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan received his PhD in Geosciences at Nancy Polytechnical University and an Executive MBA at INSEAD in France. For over 20 years he has worked for in the oil and gas industry, with Chevron (USA), Yukos (Russia), British Petroleum (UK) etc. He has also served on Management Boards and Board of Directors of major joint venture companies in Russia, Venezuela and Brazil.

© GUtech/Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

Geosciences students to attend the International Carbonate Course in Germany next year

MUSCAT Six Geosciences students of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) will participate in the Annual International Carbonate Course of the GeoCenter at the University of Erlangen (Germany). The students were awarded by the Rector Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell with GUtech study-scholarships for their travel to Germany in February/March 2019. The seminars will cover all classic and modern aspects of carbonate sedimentology and will include practical microscopy exercises using the worldwide largest carbonate thin- section and sediment sample collection of the GeoCenter. GUtech students will attend the course for the eighth time.

© Text: GUtech/Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Wasan Al Ghazi

Geosciences Professor conducted a Mining Workshop in Madagascar

HALBAN Professor Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at GUtech, has recently conducted a scientific workshop on mineral resources and their exploration at the University of Antananarivo/Madagascar. On a global scale, Madagascar is an important producer of nickel, cobalt, ilmenite, and zircon. “The country has significant resources of flaky graphite, chromite, bauxite, Rare Earth minerals, iron ore and the largest known reserves of sapphire. Historically, gold and mica played also an important role but both commodities are currently exploited by artisanal miners only. Minerals account for approximately 35 % of the country’s exports of 2.2 billion USD (2014 data), most of it from a world class nickel-cobalt deposit. International mining companies like Rio Tinto and Sherritt invested in the development of the mineral sector,” said Prof. Bauer. With an increasing number of international exploration companies operating in the country, the need for mineral exploration courses cannot be covered by the existing university staff. “After having given a course about basic exploration techniques, I decided to offer an exploration geochemistry workshop for the specific needs of Madagascar, based on known types of mineral resources and the specific constraints due to tropical weathering and topography in Madagascar.” He said while explaining that he has a long-lasting relationship with the Science Faculty at the University of Antananarivo that dates back to 2005 when the Department of Geosciences supported him in as leader of a BGS-USGS mapping campaign with 10 student interns. Since that time, we upheld our connections,” said Prof. Bauer. The workshop was very successful, despite the fact that English plays a minor role in Madagascar and the normal education language is French. A similar follow-up workshop is planned to be held next year.

This summer, Prof. Bauer also supervised the start of a joint PhD project, between GUtech and the University in Northern Madagascar. The researchers started a petrological study in the North of Madagascar. Research samples are handled and processed at GUtech’s AGEO lab and the analyses are carried out at Lisboa University in Portugal.

Ends

© Text and Photo: GUtech/Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

Geoscientist Prof Gösta Hoffmann received a Teaching Award of the University Bonn

BONN Prof Dr. Gösta Hoffmann, who is teaching and researching at GUtech, was awarded with the Rectorate’s Teaching Award 2018 of the University Bonn recently. With this award the management of the University and the Faculty of Mathematics, Geosciences and Natural Sciences of the University Bonn recognizes Prof Gösta’s strength in teaching. “Prof. Gösta Hoffmann successfully combines theory and practise in his teaching. His classes are very popular and are focused on applying the theory during excursions and the student’s overall learning experience in the field. The award was given according to student’s evaluations and a student survey from the faculty,” said Prof. Dr. Thomas Bartolomäus, member of the Faculty of Natural Sciences during the award ceremony held at the university. “The field excursions are very popular among our students and they help to educate the next generation of Geoscientists. They highly qualify them to think out-of-the box and for their future work in the industry or in the academia,” said Prof. Gösta. 

Initially, Prof. Gösta Hoffmann studied Geosciences at the University of Greifswald (Germany) where he completed his PhD in 2004. In 2008 he and his wife Dr. Anne Zacke moved to Muscat, where they were among the first faculty members in the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech. Since 2008 Prof Gösta is teaching at GUtech and conducting research on tsunami hazards in Oman. In October 2015 he was awarded with the National Research Award by the Research Council (TRC). Prof. Gösta is teaching courses on geohazards along with excursions. In the past three years he has been conducting field excursions through Oman with students from different universities and research institutes in Germany. In 2016 Prof. Gösta completed his habilitation at RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s German partner-university and he became the Head of the Working Group for General Geosciences / Environmental Geosciences at the Steinmann Institute of the University Bonn.

The Annual Rectorate’s Teaching Award is given to those professors of various faculties who apply innovative teaching techniques and who receive high evaluations from their students.

 

Caption: Prof. Dr. Gösta Hoffmann during the Award Ceremony along with Katrin Holm-Mueller, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs of the University Bonn.

(c) Text: GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: provided by the University Bonn/Prof. Goesta Hoffmann

Applied Geosciences excursion through Germany

MUSCAT The Department of Applied Geosciences (AGEO) at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), recently conducted a two weeks international excursion to Germany with a group of 12 students, their professor and an assistant. The study-trip is part of the AGEO curricula, with its main goal to learn more about the geology of Germany and the regional development of the region between the cities of Aachen and Cologne. “The students had to familiarize themselves with different aspects of applied geology such as the development of natural resources or the usage of ground- and sub-surface water in the lower Rhine district. With a focus on the presentation of thermal springs, coal and base metal deposits as well as volcanic rocks, we give the students an overview of geological topics that cannot be presented here in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, who headed the excursion.

In the second part of the excursion the students learnt more about the socio-economic development of a region, that developed from an industrial area based on lignite and coal mining region to a more diversified economy today. The group visited the geological garden and the mining museum in Bochum in the heart of the former mining district along the Ruhr river. “Although coal mining will be closed at the end of this year, the production of steel and other metals will continue with cheaper imported energy resources since the skills and know how is still there.” said Prof. Dr. Bauer, who is specialized in the mining sector.

The students visited different German cities like Cologne, Bochum, Xanten, Aachen and Spa in Belgium. At GUtech’s partner-university, RWTH Aachen University, they were welcomed by the international office and informed about Master and PhD programmes and they had the opportunity to attend a lecture in the MSc programme in Applied Geosciences. In recent years, several GUtech students have conducted their research for a Bachelor project at RWTH Aachen or pursued their MSc studies in the Geosciences department. “We continuously need to maintain our excellent links to universities in Germany and in other European countries. This collaboration and cooperation is the best way to link our young Omani graduates with the international research community,” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer.

(c) GUtech/Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

The Oman Drilling Project – Expert shares his research with GUtech students

HALBAN Two third of the Earth’s surface is made up of oceanic crust, which forms at mid-ocean ridges and is recycled into the mantle via subduction at convergent plate boundaries. During each phase of its 200 million year lifecycle the oceanic crust plays a key role in global geochemical cycles, including the carbon cycle. The inaccessibility of the seafloor makes it difficult to study. However, fragments of ancient oceanic lithosphere that have been tectonically emplaced on continental margins provide access to complete cross-sections of seafloor. These exposed sections of oceanic lithosphere are called ophiolites. The Samail Ophiolite in Oman is the largest, best-exposed section of oceanic lithosphere in the World.

The Oman Drilling Project (ODP) is a comprehensive international drilling program that aims to sample the whole ophiolite sequence, from oceanic crust through to upper mantle, in a series of boreholes. Data collection includes analysis of rock core, geophysical logging, fluid sampling, hydrological measurements and microbiological sampling. The geoscientist, Dr. Philippe Pezard, University of Montpellier (France) is currently leading the geophysical logging of the boreholes. He shared his experience and information about the equipment used with students from the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech. Some students visited one of the project’s drilling sites last week.

After completion of the international research project, a large number of scientists from a broad spectrum of disciplines will use the new datasets. The ODP will address long-standing unresolved questions and undertake frontier exploration of subsurface weathering processes that lead to natural uptake of CO2 from surface waters and the atmosphere, and the nature of the subsurface biosphere in areas. Drilling operations started on December 25, 2016. Intense logging is performed currently. The ODP is funded and supported by a consortium of international institutions, including GUtech.