The University of Wyoming has officially announced a transformational investment of $15 million from Hess Corporation, bringing its total investment in UW since 2013 to $25 million. Hess Corporation’s support will allow the University of Wyoming to expand groundbreaking research that promises to significantly increase the amount of oil and gas recovered from shale reservoirs.
This makes Hess the single largest corporate partner in the university’s history. Hess is an industry leader in unconventional reservoirs of oil and gas with premier acreage in the core of two prime U.S. shale plays — the Bakken and the Utica.
Governor Matt Mead and UW President Dick McGinity were joined by Hess Corporation’s Chief Executive Officer John Hess and President and Chief Operating Officer Greg Hill to announce Hess’s third partnership commitment to UW in the past two years.
“Our partnership with the University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources will enable us to fully understand the complex rock-fluid interactions that occur in the reservoirs of unconventional plays,” Hess says. “The innovations that result from this partnership will have a positive impact on the U.S. shale industry for years to come and will help meet the world’s future energy needs.”
“The Hess Digital Rock Physical Lab here at the university is doing proprietary research related to several of our assets,” Hill says. “Learnings from these activities promise to significantly increase the amount of oil and gas recovered from shale reservoirs.”
Hess’s $15 million commitment includes $5 million for the High Bay Research Facility, $5 million for sponsored research on unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, $4.5 million for equipment and technology within the High Bay Research Facility, and $500,000 for laboratory performance development. The state of Wyoming will match $14.5 million of this gift through the state matching program.
“Hess Corporation has played a critical part in the groundbreaking research at the University of Wyoming,” says Gov. Mead. “Their continuing support is important to this research and to industry. It is also a statement of confidence in UW’s ongoing efforts to assure Wyoming’s place as an international leader in this field.”
State matching funds help UW pursue partnerships with industry leaders such as Hess, which allow UW’s energy programs to achieve distinction in areas of strategic importance to Wyoming’s — and our nation’s — economy.
“Hess Corporation has once again demonstrated an unwavering commitment to UW’s energy mission with the announcement of this historic partnership,” says McGinity. “The Hess investment provides faculty and students with state-of-the-art facilities and equipment that allows them to study critical energy issues that will have an impact on the university, the industry and the state. This collaboration among Hess, Wyoming’s governor and legislators enables UW to achieve a leading role in energy research worldwide.”
In 2013, Hess committed $5 million to support research and state-of-the-art equipment for the Hess Digital Rock Physics Laboratory, specifically the lab’s Nano Resolution Imaging capabilities. The UW School of Energy Resources has established a program to investigate the flow of oil and gas through tight shale and sandstone at macro, micro and nano scales, led by UW Professor Mohammad Piri, Wyoming Excellence Chair in Petroleum Engineering.
The macro- and micro-scale laboratories are in place, and Hess’s contribution supported the nano-scale laboratory by purchasing a nano CT scanner and electron microscope, among other equipment.
Hess’s second commitment of $5 million is supporting further research and the building of UW’s new High Bay Research Facility, plus essential technology and equipment used in the facility for research into unconventional oil and gas reservoirs.
The High Bay Research Facility will expand experimental capacity and allow Piri’s group to conduct multiple areas of investigation simultaneously in the Hess Digital Rock Physics Lab, thereby satisfying the demands of both academic research and private sector partnerships. It also eliminates the need for compromise that might jeopardize Wyoming’s leading position in this research.
“The University of Wyoming has been deeply enriched through Hess’s belief in and support of our energy and engineering programs,” says Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president. “Their desire to partner with us and to capitalize upon the funds provided by the state of Wyoming matching program is expanding the impact of their generosity and creating a new level of excellence at UW.”
The High Bay Research Facility will be located on north 19th Street near the UW Centennial Complex. It will contain approximately 90,000 square feet of high-bay and traditional laboratory space, and affiliated office and meeting areas. The laboratories will enable research that will improve understanding of how to maximize recovery from unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, part of UW’s Tier-1 Engineering Initiative. Programs will be conducted in the Center of Innovation for Flow in Porous Media, the Improved Oil Recovery Laboratory, and the Geomechanical/Petrology Laboratory. A Structures Research Laboratory also will be part of the new building.
The private funds for the High Bay Research Facility originated from UW’s most significant corporate partnerships — not only with Hess Corporation, but also with Halliburton, ExxonMobil, Ultra Petroleum, Marathon Oil Company, Shell, Baker Hughes and Arch Coal Inc.
The High Bay Research Facility is one of four energy- and engineering-related facilities, two of which are planned to upgrade facilities for UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. The Michael B. Enzi STEM Facility will be used for teaching laboratories for introductory courses such as general chemistry, general biology, organic chemistry, elementary physics, mathematics, computational sciences, computer science and other large-enrollment lab courses.
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 Energy Innovation Center, a 27,300-square-foot facility, serves as the home of the School of Energy Resources and its various centers of excellence. Opened in 2013, it also was funded through private donations and state matching funds.
The High Bay Research Facility, Energy Innovation Center and the Engineering Building projects are tied to the work of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force, which released its strategy for creating a Tier-1 engineering program at UW. UW is now implementing the many programmatic recommendations and facility upgrades called for in the task force report.