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Austin, TX :: BP, UT Team Up in O&G Research Projects

BP announced it will commit $4 million to launch a new strategic partnership with The University of Texas at Austin to support several leading-edge oil and gas industry research projects, with the potential for increased contributions as new studies are identified in the future.

The unique collaboration between the two institutions, which highlights BP’s ongoing commitment to higher education and research, aims to develop real-world solutions to a number of technical challenges facing the global oil and gas industry, both onshore and offshore.

One initial area of focus is related to Project 20K™, a multi-year initiative announced by BP in early 2012 that seeks to develop next-generation systems and tools to help unlock the next frontier of deepwater oil and gas resources, currently beyond the reach of today’s technology. Accessing these resources is a key part of BP’s commitment to U.S. energy security.

The University of Texas’ Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering will work with the Project 20K™ team to study the impact of “human factors” on the drilling process and the potential for new systems that can enhance safety and efficiency. A second area of activity will be to develop a reliability assessment process for BP’s project team to use in quantifying the “system-level reliability” of Project 20K™ concepts.

Other joint research projects include one that seeks to improve recoveries from shale gas and oil formations through a deep investigation of fracturing fluids’ impact on well productivity. Another focuses on enhancing early detection of “kicks” – the sudden influx of hydrocarbons into a well – by using real-time well data and predictive models to better inform operational decisions, in support of BP’s commitment to safe and reliable operations.

“This is not just theoretical research,” said James Dupree, BP’s Chief Operating Officer, Reservoir Development & Technology. “Under this partnership, we are tackling real-world challenges that, if better understood, could have far-reaching impacts not only on BP but on the future of global energy development.”

Administered by a joint governance board, the program has established a rigorous process for selecting research projects that play to the university’s world-class strengths in engineering and geosciences as well as meet BP’s strategic business needs.

BP is funding research in the Cockrell School’s Departments of Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering and Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering.

“This partnership allows our faculty and graduate students to solve challenging, relevant problems in global energy development, to work collaboratively with leading scientists and engineers from BP, and to see how their solutions are implemented in a real-world setting,” said John Ekerdt, associate dean of the Cockrell School of Engineering. “We look forward to the new interdisciplinary opportunities our researchers will have to develop technologies that will have a far-reaching societal benefit.”

While the agreement is initially focused on several specific research projects, the intent is to establish a long-term partnership between BP and the University of Texas that is beneficial to both and that could later result in increased funding. Successes in early projects will help build the basis for future collaboration, with the ultimate goal of taking the research and technologies developed through the program from the lab and into the field.

Press Release, November 01, 2013

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University of Texas Oil Connections

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This is a picture of the Santa Rita in the early 1920’s.

In 1883, the year UT was opened, an endowment was established by the state of Texas that donated 2.1 million acres in West Texas to help UT. Not much was expected of the desolate land besides to perhaps develop it for real estate. In the 1920’s curious men acquired drilling permits from UT, hoping to strike it rich. There were in fact huge oil discoveries. Oil from the Permian Basin has generously provided for the UT system. The PUF continues to receive royalties from oil and gas production in West Texas while the AUF, Available University Fund, continues to receive all surface lease income. Surface lease usually entails “grazing and easements for power lines and pipelines.”1

Big Lake Oilfield and Santa Rita #1 Oil Well

In 1919, Rupert P. Ricker started advertising the land given to UT for oil exploration. The UT alum had utilized a law passed two years earlier permitting state land to be chartered for oil exploration. Having trouble making the sale of 431,360 acres, Ricker turned to an army buddy, Frank T. Pickrell. The original price of the permits for the land and other processing fees was approximately $41,136; however Pickrell paid only $2,500 due to the approaching thirty day deadline for Ricker to make the sale. In 1921, Pickrell started making his runs desperately searching for Texas Tea.

Much to his delight, the Santa Rita #1 oil well produced oil on the final day before the permit expired. A group of Catholic women had large investments in the exploration; when they heard all of this, they wanted it called Santa Rita (“Patron of the Impossible”). But on May 25, 1923, Cromwell, with fellow worker Dee Locklin, decided to “shut down the well to keep reports tight while they leased surrounding acreage for themselves.”2

The oil well was a part of the Big Lake Oilfield. By 1926, the oilfield had already contributed $4 million to the PUF. In the beginning, the single oil well was producing around 3,000 barrels of oil daily. Different wells in the field also had success early on; “the No. 9 well’s initial daily production was 1,400 barrels, on June 24, 1924. The No. 10 came in with 1,840 barrels on July 11. But the No. 11, which began producing 3,600 barrels daily on July 31, proved the field’s productivity.”1

The Santa Rita had served its purpose to the UT system in its sixty-seven years. In 1990, the plug was pulled. The Texas State Historical Association had the original Santa Rita #1 rig moved to the UT campus, and it can be seen next to MLK Blvd between Trinity and San Jacinto streets.

Yates Oil Field

is one of the richest oil fields in the United States; it is rated in the top ten for overall production and second for reserves. Much like the Big Lake Oilfield, permits were granted by UT, and in turn, the school received royalties from the drilling in West Texas.

According to the DrillingInfo website, Yates has over 1 billion barrels left in reserves, which is the largest amount of reserves in the entire nation with the exception of the mammoth Prudhoe Bay, Alaska. It continues to produce around 20,000 barrels of oil per day and around 85,000 MCF (thousand cubic feet) of gas daily. In 1998, it was reported that a research team named Golder Associates of Redmond, Washington was attempting to discover ways to maximize production using natural drainage systems. “Very effective gravity drainage, combined with a secondary gas-cap expansion drive is responsible for the estimated ultimate recovery of 50 percent of the original oil in place.”3 The oil field is so well maintained since it contributes so much to the University.

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USA: Statoil Signs Energy Partneship Agreement with UT

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International energy company Statoil  and the University of Texas at Austin (UT) have signed an Energy Partnership agreement providing the university with an annual funding of USD 1 million for 5 years.

The agreement is Statoil’s largest of its kind outside Norway, and UT has been chosen as the company’s pilot university in the United States.

“We are very pleased to enter into this agreement with UT, a world-class academic institution, renowned for its leading research and education within several important areas for us,” says Bill Maloney, executive vice president for Statoil in North America.

Statoil wants to further develop its position in the market for talented women and men to join us. We plan to significantly grow our activities in the United States and Canada. Universities and academic institutions in North America represent important arenas for Statoil in research and competence development, both on a regional and global level,” says Maloney.

“Statoil is a world-class energy company with a commitment to research and education, and we look forward to working with them in the years to come to develop talented young people who will become the energy leaders of tomorrow,” says Scott Tinker, the director of UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology. He will sit on the strategic board helping to guide the program.

The agreement was signed in Austin on September 19 by Statoil executive vice president Bill Maloney and UT research vice president Juan M. Sanchez.

“Statoil technology is world leading in many areas. However, the oil and gas industry is changing with more complex technological challenges. Increased global focus on research and development is needed to close technological gaps. Academia agreements are of strategic importance to Statoil in order to maintain a rapid pace of technological innovation and continue developing a business mindset,” says Hersvik.

UT has for many years been an important partner for Statoil within research and technology development, especially in the areas of geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering. Four strategic areas are identified in the new agreement:

  • Integration of geological, geophysical and petrophysical data in earth models
  • Trap integrity in salt basins – sub-salt imaging and seal versus pore pressure challenges
  • Drainage of deep marine reservoirs – static and dynamic reservoir models and drainage methods
  • Unconventionals – improved development and drainage of shale plays

“This agreement is vital for Statoil’s long-term ambitions in the US,” says Helge Haldorsen, vice president for strategy in Statoil North America.

“We are in a growth mode, and this agreement will allow us to access world-class research and long-term recruitment opportunities. By extending and formalising our collaboration with UT, we aim at stimulating research and competence development within strategic important areas both for UT and Statoil,” he says.

Statoil’s academia programme consists of 11 bilateral agreements. Of these, eight are with Norwegian institutions and three are international. In addition to the UT agreement, Statoil has formalised collaboration with Imperial College in the UK and Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.

Statoil is an international energy company with operations in 34 countries. Building on more than 35 years of experience from oil and gas production on the Norwegian continental shelf, Statoil is committed to accommodating the world’s energy needs in a responsible manner, applying technology and creating innovative business solutions. Statoil is headquartered in Norway with 20,000 employees worldwide, and is listed on the New York and Oslo stock exchanges.

In North America, Statoil is established with US offices in Houston, Texas; Stamford, Connecticut; Washington DC and Anchorage, Alaska, and Canadian offices in Calgary, Alberta and St. Johns, Newfoundland and Labrador.

Statoil is one of the largest holders of deepwater acreage in the US Gulf of Mexico, where it also has interests in six producing fields. Onshore US, the company holds material positions in the Marcellus and Eagle Ford shales. In Canada Statoil is operator for the Kai Kos Dehseh project in Alberta and has interests in two producing fields offshore Newfoundland.

Statoil’s Research and Development department has about 700 employees. Statoil is devoting approximately USD 430 million to research activities in 2011, and has research centres in Norway (Trondheim, Karsto, Bergen, Porsgrunn), a heavy oil technology centre in Canada (Calgary) and technology activities in Beijing, Rio de Janeiro and Houston.

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