UT signs five-year research deal with Shell

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UT President William Powers Jr. and Shell President Marvin Odium sign the Shell UT Unconventional Research Partnership.

Photo Credit: Jono Foley | Daily Texan Staff

President William Powers Jr. met with representatives from Royal Dutch Shell Plc. gas company Tuesday to announce and sign documents for a multi-year research partnership worth $7.5 million between the University of Texas and Shell.

This five-year partnership will produce funds for use in research at UT regarding unconventional oil and gas recovery.

“Unconventional resources are already having an enormous impact on the U.S.” said Marvin Odum, president of Shell International Exploration and Production.

The primary source of unconventional energy is shale gas, which has been developed all over the country to heat homes and provide electricity, said J. B. Bird, spokesperson for the Jackson School of Geosciences.

Unconventional resources already account for at least 50 percent of produced energy in the U.S., according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

By 2035, shale gas and other unconventional resources are expected to comprise three-fourths of energy production in the U.S. according to the EIA.

“The pursuit of unconventional energy resources is a complex, integrated problem,” Powers said.

Powers and Odum said that this partnership is an important development in energy research undertaken by the private sector.

“This agreement marks an important milestone in Shell’s commitment to continually research and develop innovative technology that will help to meet global demands by bringing more energy resources to market,” Odum said.

The Bureau of Economic Geology will oversee the Shell-UT Program on Unconventional Resources. However, Bird says this project will rely on participation from across the campus.

“The majority [of this funding] will be split between geosciences and petroleum geoscience engineering,”
Bird said

In addition, experts in economics, environmental policy, business and energy law will participate in this research partnership, Bird said.

The actual projects that will be created by this collaboration are still in development. Bird said many projects will be driven by research projects that are already taking place or will begin soon.

However, Bird said, “There is no question that students will have an opportunity to be involved.”

In particular, graduate students will have an important role in this research collaboration, according to Bird.

“As a major research university and leader in energy, we’ve got the integrated expertise to help solve [problems in unconventional energy],” Powers said.

Powers said that Texas has long been a leader in the fields of geoscience and petroleum engineering and through this partnership, UT will remain a leader.

“This research agreement ensures that future advancements will continue to come from Texas,” Powers said. 

Printed on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 as: Powers signs five-year research deal with Shell.