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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

Innovation in Oil and Gas Production


Hess has been using technology to serve its customers and create value since the company began in the 1930s.

That’s when 19-year-old Leon Hess of Asbury Park, New Jersey, bought a second-hand oil delivery truck and then installed heaters to warm and thin the heavy industrial oil. This allowed it to flow more easily, which sped up delivery and enabled Leon to serve more customers more quickly.

Technological ingenuity has played a role in each stage of the company’s growth—from exploration of oil fields to building pipelines, from deepwater and horizontal drilling to terminal delivery and asset optimization.

Hess has made an incredible $4.4 million investment in UW, which will be doubled by $4.4 million in state matching funds, for a Nano Resolution Imaging Laboratory.

The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources, with Dr. Mohammad Piri, has established a program to investigate the flow of oil and gas through tight shale and sandstone at macro, micro, and nano scales. The macro- and micro-scale laboratories are in place, and Hess’s contribution supports the nano-scale laboratory with the purchase of a nano CT scanner and electron microscope, among other things. The state matching portion will build the Energy Engineering Research Facility that will house this research, which is the subject of a governor’s task force.

“The partnership with Hess represents an outstanding achievement for UW,” says Mark Northam, Director of the School of Energy Resources. “Hess is a clear leader in applying technology to develop unconventional reservoirs. We are honored that they chose UW to collaborate with in creating fundamental understanding about how fluids move through tight rocks. This collaboration signals a bright future for UW and for Hess.”

Hess recognizes that consistent and cutting edge technology solutions and continuous process improvement are fundamentally important to their business, including more effective exploitation of unconventional reservoirs. The company devoted $2.5 billion in unconventional reservoir research and development in 2010 alone.

Why UW? Because the University of Wyoming is on the leading edge of research into unconventional reservoirs, which has the potential to make huge advances in energy production. Because UW’s dedicated research teams are interdisciplinary, which allows for real breakthroughs in technology. Because the State of Wyoming also supports and invests in its university and energy research. Because UW is committed to public-private partnerships like Hess’s that advance our shared energy future.

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