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UW receives $1 million grant for oil and gas research

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LARAMIE, Wyo. (AP) — An oilfield services company is giving the University of Wyoming $1 million to support research on unconventional oil and gas reservoirs in the state.

The money provided by Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. will be used over a three-year period by the UW School of Energy Resources.

Baker Hughes has previously partnered with the university on energy research.

In 2012, Baker Hughes donated $500,000 toward construction on UW's High Bay Research Facility, said Mark Northam, School of Energy Resources director. The laboratory facility, which will serve the school's energy, engineering and geology departments, is scheduled to be completed by September 2016.

The newest grant will be matched dollar for dollar by the state, Northam said. The university recently received $20 million in appropriations for research, $1 million of which will be earmarked for studies on improving recovery from unconventional reservoirs.

With the increased funding, researchers plan to study the physics of oil and gas in porous media, Northam said, adding that research in these areas is currently "booming."

"This research will provide improved understanding of the fundamentals of flow and transport through tight rocks and will contribute to improving recovery of viable resources they contain," he told the Laramie Boomerang (

Producing oil has traditionally involved brute force, and in the current environment, unconventional reservoirs are less profitable, Northam said. This has the potential to change with better knowledge of how to move oil and gas in these reservoirs, he said.

"The ultimate implication is more oil produced from each well drilled," Northam said. "And less left behind, which is equally important."

Former Wyoming governor Dave Freudenthal said the grant should allow UW to remain competitive and be recognized for its researchers' work in the energy industry.

"It's turned out to be an opportunity for the university to not just gain resources, but to gain significant prestige around the country," he said.

Rustom Mody, vice president of technology at Baker Hughes, said donating to universities like UW is an investment that creates value within the energy industry and encourages innovation — especially during an economic downturn.

"I look at these cycles as a blessing in disguise," he said. "Because every innovation I've seen in my 25 years in the industry happens during a downturn."


Information from: Laramie Boomerang,

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