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March 4, 2014 — The University of Wyoming announced today (Tuesday) the creation of a new collaboration with Halliburton, a leading oil field services company. Halliburton is gifting $2 million to support the construction of a major new UW energy and engineering research complex. In addition, Halliburton is funding $1 million for research into unconventional reservoirs.
Halliburton’s support will be doubled to $6 million through state of Wyoming matching dollars and the UW School of Energy Resources research match funding.
This public-private collaboration with Halliburton will support the UW High Bay Research Facility, which will house labs where large-scale experiments that go beyond the size of a traditional engineering laboratory can be conducted. Labs that will be included in this building are a digital rock physics lab, geomechanics lab, a core-flood facility and a structural engineering lab, along with the supporting facilities and personnel to manage the facility.
“Halliburton is proud to work with the University of Wyoming to provide a state-of-the-art teaching environment for the next generation of engineers -- including the UW students who may join us in the future,” says Dave Lesar, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Halliburton. “We believe that the UW High Bay Research Facility will enable academic excellence and provide students with the necessary education to help find solutions for global energy demands.”
With Halliburton’s support of the High Bay Research Facility, Halliburton and UW will partner to perform fundamental research on critical aspects of unconventional reservoir characterization and development. Mohammad Piri, UW associate professor of chemical and petroleum engineering, will collaborate with scientists and engineers from Halliburton to better understand characteristics of oil and gas reservoirs and how to effectively improve the recovery using existing recovery processes and technology. Piri’s research is geared toward the development of a better understanding of the physics of flow and transport in porous media.
“The University of Wyoming and all of the private partners who have come forward to date are creating a brighter future. We want to develop leading technologies to make energy production more efficient, safer and better for the environment. Halliburton and the other companies already contributing to the High Bay Research Facility are choosing to invest here. This is significant because these multinational businesses can invest their research dollars anywhere. We thank Halliburton for being the latest company to choose UW,” says Gov. Matt Mead.
Because Wyoming’s economy is largely based on natural resource production, energy research has direct implications for the future of the state and its citizens. Significant new oil and gas reserves within Wyoming are projected to be discovered in unconventional reservoirs, and incremental improvements to production represent major new revenue streams to the state, and future employment opportunities for its citizens and students.
“The University of Wyoming is very pleased that Halliburton is joining other industry leaders in supporting the construction of the High Bay Research Facility and UW’s world-class research into unconventional reservoirs,” says UW President Dick McGinity. “The High Bay will allow us to accelerate research that promises to make energy more abundant everywhere in the world. UW is grateful to industry partners such as Halliburton, and to Wyoming’s governor and legislators, for enabling UW to achieve a leading role in energy research worldwide.”
The High Bay Research Facility is one of two future construction projects planned to upgrade facilities for UW’s energy and engineering research and academic programs. The High Bay Research Facility will enhance UW’s research capacity in strategic energy areas, while a major renovation and expansion of the Engineering Building near the heart of the UW campus will provide a much-needed upgrade to existing facilities.
The High Bay Research Facility will be built in partnership with the School of Energy Resources, College of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Department of Geology and Geophysics.
“UW is privileged to significantly expand an important energy collaboration with one of the key companies that is advancing our state’s economy,” says Ben Blalock, president and CEO of the UW Foundation. “Halliburton CEO Dave Lesar immediately embraced the opportunity to work more closely with Governor Mead and the University of Wyoming. It is clear that UW’s collaboration with Halliburton is long-term.”
The High Bay Research Facility is funded by $15 million in private donations doubled by a $15 million appropriation from the Wyoming State Legislature. It will contain approximately 81,000 square feet with large-scale, flexibly configured research laboratories, offices and meeting areas. To date, UW has raised nearly $13 million toward the goal of $15 million from Hess, ExxonMobil, Marathon, Ultra Petroleum, Baker Hughes and Shell to construct and equip the facility. UW has confirmed that the final gift to complete this major fundraising drive is in process and will be announced in the near future.
A third major UW energy facility was opened in the past year. The UW Energy Innovation Center (EIC) is a 27,300-square-foot facility that serves as the home of the School of Energy Resources and its various centers of excellence. The EIC also was funded through private donations and state matching funds.
While the EIC contains 12,500 square feet of rapidly reconfigurable laboratory space, it does not include space needed to house and support large-scale testing related to energy development, conversion and conservation. Providing that large-scale testing space -- along with a place for collaborative, multidisciplinary research and advanced education initiatives -- is the purpose of the High Bay Research Facility.
Both the High Bay Research Facility and the Engineering Building projects are tied to the work of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force, which recently released its plan for strengthening engineering and STEM-related education and research in areas that can contribute directly to Wyoming’s economy and the well-being of its citizens.
UW’s strategic plan for energy programs focuses on three areas: unconventional reservoirs, climbing the value chain and renewable resources. Unconventional reservoirs include oil shale and coal-bed methane that are produced using unconventional methods. “Climbing the value chain” means adding steps in Wyoming’s chain of natural gas production and coal production to mitigate boom-and-bust cycles. Research into renewable resources includes increasing efficiency so that such resources are more cost effective.
Halliburton was founded in 1919 by Erle P. Halliburton and is one of the world’s largest providers of products and services to the energy industry. Halliburton has a proud history of focusing on innovation and expansion. In the 1930s, it established its first research lab that tested cement mixes. In North America, including Wyoming, Halliburton focuses on maximizing the value of conventional and unconventional reservoirs containing oil and natural gas by leveraging reservoir expertise and tailored technology solutions.
Halliburton’s support for the University of Wyoming will play a key role in elevating UW’s energy programs to national and international prominence. The university looks forward with anticipation and excitement to an enhanced and integrated partnership with Halliburton.
The announcement was made during a news conference at the State Capitol. Speakers included the governor; McGinity; Blalock; the Governor’s Energy Task Force Chair Tom Botts; Halliburton Chairman, President and CEO Dave Lesar; and School of Energy Resources Director Mark Northam.
Participants in UW’s 2013 Engineering Summer Program -- a national group of high school juniors -- visit one of Halliburton facilities located north of Denver last summer.