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UW Breaks Ground on Energy Resources Center

November 19, 2010
Concept art of building
An artist's view of the completed Energy Resources Center, looking southwest across Lewis Street.

Partnerships for energy-related research and teaching will soon have a new home at the University of Wyoming.

University, state and industry leaders broke ground today (Friday) on the $25.4 million Energy Resources Center (ERC), a state-of-the-art research and collaboration facility that will help the School of Energy Resources (SER) and its various centers of excellence -- including the Enhanced Oil Recovery Institute -- to realize their full potential.

The ERC, funded through private donations and state matching funds, will include about 30,000-square-feet of space, highlighted by 12,000 square feet of rapidly reconfigurable laboratory space to assist UW and the SER in accomplishing the mission to ensure Wyoming becomes a global leader in building a secure and sustainable energy future.

"This is a good day -- a good day for the School of Energy Resources, a good day for the University of Wyoming, a good day for the energy industry and a good day for the State of Wyoming," says Gov. Dave Freudenthal, who was one of six speakers during the morning ceremony. "I want to thank those private sector investors whose contributions helped to make today possible.

"This building will be an important addition to the campus but the real significance is what will take place inside the walls.  This center will enable, but not guarantee, a world-class teaching and learning environment. To reach the full potential symbolized by this building, the folks that brought us this far will have to continue to work hard if not harder, collaborate even more openly and intensely and be even more wise about the capital -- both intellectual and financial -- we invest. Only then will the big step we take today truly lead us to the potential we seek to be successful in the complex and competitive world we face."

The ERC, to be located between 10th and 11th streets on the south side of Lewis Street, will also include a collaboratorium, 3D visualization research facility and a classroom/auditorium.

"The construction of the Energy Resources Center will open a new chapter in the excellence of teaching and research of energy-related sciences at the University of Wyoming," UW President Tom Buchanan says. "But as important as this facility will be to those efforts, the greater celebration is about the extraordinary partnership that has emerged between the state, industry leaders and the university to extend the vitality of Wyoming's energy economy and develop renewable energy alternatives."

Adds Ron Harper, chairman of the SER's Energy Resources Council, "This building will provide a meaningful and adequate facility for the type of enhanced research that is necessary to sustain and ensure the long-term viability of the energy industry in Wyoming."

Encana Oil & Gas USA provided the largest private donation toward construction of the ERC, a $5 million commitment in 2007 that was matched by the state.

In addition, Encana also gifted $2 million to UW for three new engineering research laboratories. The Encana Research Laboratory and the Encana Integrated Simulation Data Center in the College of Engineering and Applied Science are already open, and plans are under way to open one additional laboratory.

"Encana has enjoyed a long and productive association with this prestigious university and the state of Wyoming itself, which is where we first started our U.S. operations," says Eric Marsh, Encana's executive vice president for natural gas economy and a UW graduate. "Our investment in the Energy Resources Center is the latest chapter of a relationship we have been privileged to be a part of, and we look forward to seeing how it will benefit the natural gas industry."

He adds, "This new center of higher learning mirrors our own commitment to excellence and innovation in the natural gas energy industry."

Other major ERC and SER funders include Nielson and Associates, BP America, Shell, Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, Anadarko, Marathon, Ultra Petroleum, Questar and Conoco Phillips.

Construction of the ERC will begin this spring, with completion expected in summer 2012. Wyoming-based GE Johnson, of Jackson, was hired in March to serve as construction manager at-risk on the project. GSG Architecture of Casper and HOK, Inc., of St. Louis have been instrumental in bringing together features of the state-of-the-art building.

"The Energy Resources Center will be a tremendous asset to the university and to our state, and we are thankful that our industry partners share this vision," says SER Director Mark Northam. "I am excited by the prospect of delivering a state-of-the-art research and collaboration center for the university and energy stakeholders throughout Wyoming."

The SER -- created by the Wyoming State Legislature in 2006 to enhance the university's energy-related education, research and outreach -- features nine centers of excellence dedicated to the study of enhanced oil recovery, carbon management, advanced coal technology, wind energy and other fields of energy research.

For more information on the SER, go to the official Web site at

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