The Bureau of Economic Geology The University of Texas at Austin
Objective / Purpose
Shell and the University of Texas at Austin (UT) recognize the importance of unconventional oil and natural gas resources, such as shale gas, coalbed methane, tight gas, oil shale, shale oil, and beyond. The two entities have established a research collaboration to begin to address the enormously complex problem of unconventional resources, and intend to pose questions, develop research programs, and arrive at results and solutions. The program is called Shell-UT Unconventional Research (SUTUR).

The University of Texas at Austin offers deep and broad strengths across geosciences and engineering, and significant strength in environmental science (including water), policy, law and business. Expertise in these areas, when brought together in a partnership with Shell expertise and industry experience, should impact in a positive way the future exploration and safe development of unconventional hydrocarbon resources globally.

The Shell-UT Unconventional Research (SUTUR) program will be collaborative; multiple departments from the University of Texas and Shell will work together on research projects over an extended period of time. Collaboration will be inherent and strategic guidance will be provided by a high-level Steering Team comprising Shell and University of Texas personnel. The framework is designed to attract strong proposals from UT researchers and faculty and to be different from business as usual.

The research will be proposed, conducted and managed by UT, but Shell will have strong input into overall program direction, project selection and evaluation of results via a Steering Team (ST) comprising two representatives from Shell and two representatives from UT. Initial members of this team are:
   • VP, Unconventional Research (Ben Van den Brule)
   • Manager, Unconventional Gas Technology (Sau-Wai Wong)
   • Robert Dombrowski
University of Texas:
   • Director, Bureau of Economic Geology (Scott W. Tinker)
   • Chair, Petroleum Geosystems and Engineering (Tad Patzek)
   • Eric Potter
   • Michael Young

The ST will provide the overall vision for SUTUR, establish the technical program thrust areas, design and issue Requests for Proposals, appoint a team to review submissions, coordinate the technical projects, and review overall progress of SUTUR activities. The ST will meet in person at least once annually and quarterly by teleconference.

Day-to-day operations of SUTUR activities will be managed by the Bureau of Economic Geology, who will be responsible for coordinating ongoing program activities, budgets, contracts, purchases, and operations.
from left to right: UT President William Powers, Shell Oil Co. USA President Marvin Odum, Shell VP for Unconventional Technologies Ben van den Brule, and BEG Director Scott Tinker

On September 13, Shell and The University of Texas at Austin signed a 5-year agreement to invest $7.5 million to address short- and long-term challenges facing the growing worldwide unconventional oil and gas industry. The Bureau of Economic Geology, a leader in unconventionals research, will manage the new Shell-UT Program on Unconventional Resources with participation across the campus, including geoscience, engineering, economics, business, environmental, and regulatory affairs. "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," said Shell President Marvin Odum. "We chose to collaborate with UT because it brings together an extraordinary amount of talent from both organizations that will push the technological envelope in the field of developing even the most challenging hydrocarbons safely and responsibly." Bureau Director Scott Tinker thinks that the program will have a far-reaching impact. "Increased production of shale gas and other unconventional hydrocarbons could significantly enhance U.S. energy security," Tinker said, "since these are largely available, affordable, and reliable domestic energy sources that contribute directly to the U.S. and global economy." For more information, read the press release and stories in the Austin American-Statesman and Houston Chronicle.


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