Texas A&M University is teaming with Chevron U.S.A, Inc., to establish a research and teaching center in the College of Geosciences focused on basin modeling. This initiative further advances the strong relationship the university has with Chevron and is largely funded with donations from Chevron’s University Partnership Program. Basin modeling involves analyzing the formation and evolution of sedimentary basins to help evaluate potential hydrocarbon reserves.
Right: Hiking up Bone Canyon to study proximal turbidite deposits.
The Basin Modeling Center of Research Excellence will be located in the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems on the College Station campus. “The Texas A&M Board of Regents established the Berg-Hughes Center in 2009 to ensure a legacy of excellence in education and research in petroleum and sedimentary systems at the university,” said Ernest Mancini, Berg-Hughes director. “The Basin Modeling Center of Research Excellence is a major effort toward achieving this goal.” The cooperative initiative will provide opportunities for faculty and students to enter into collaborative, multidisciplinary research projects with geoscientists and petroleum engineers from Chevron and other companies to further understanding of sedimentary systems, sedimentary basins, and unconventional petroleum resources. The agreement also provides five fellowships for each of three years to attract, support and educate outstanding students.“Most important,” Mancini said, “it allows us to hire a senior geoscientist to spearhead the collaborative research efforts. This person will also teach advanced concepts and technologies needed to unravel the geological history of sedimentary basins and the origin and distribution of unconventional and conventional petroleum resources.” The senior scientist will also guide graduate students and faculty in using sophisticated computational methods and new technologies to solve complex geologic problems, he added. “The Basin Modeling Center will help to advance science and technology in higher education, while promoting independent academic research,” said Mark Koelmel, Earth Sciences General Manager with Chevron Energy Technology Company. “The Center of Research Excellence will progress the current understanding in the field of basin modeling through collaborative research.” A board of six representatives – three from Texas A&M and three from Chevron – will jointly lead the direction of the program and help coordinate interactions between scientists and the two entities. In addition to leading research in basin modeling, the Chevron-funded research faculty member will teach one graduate class each semester. “It is clear that geologists, geophysicists and petroleum engineers must work together to solve the difficult problems concerning finding and producing oil and gas,” said Stephen Holditch, professor of petroleum engineering and director of the Texas A&M Energy Institute. “Basin modeling--formation evaluation when coupled with reservoir simulation--provides the information industry requires to find and produce hydrocarbons. This is a well-timed gift that will benefit Texas A&M University and the oil and gas industry.”The Berg-Hughes Center is an interdisciplinary program in geosciences and engineering across several departments and colleges at Texas A&M, including Geology and Geophysics and Oceanography in the College of Geosciences and the Petroleum Engineering in the Dwight Look College of Engineering.
Above left: Seated are Kate Miller, dean, College of Geosciences, and Mark Koelmel, general manager of the Earth Sciences Department, Chevron Energy. Standing are Rick Giardino, head, Department of Geology and Geophysics, and Mike Pope, professor and interim director, Berg-Hughes Center.
College of Geosciences