Oil companies, province pony up $16.5 million for research centre
— File photo
C-CORE is getting a new, $17-million centre to carry out long-term research on ways to develop Arctic resources.
Over five years, the Centre for Cold Ocean Resources Engineering (C-CORE) will receive $6.25 million from the Hibernia partners, $6.25 million from Suncor Energy which operates the Terra Nova oilfield, and $4 million from the provincial Research and Development Corp.
C-CORE is contributing $500,000 to the Centre for Arctic Resource Development, or CARD for short.
Ice will rank high on the new centre’s list of research activities, including such things as improving iceberg detection among sea ice and assessing the impact of large icebergs on offshore platforms.
“Ice is one of the defining characteristics of the Arctic,” said Charles Randell, C-CORE’s president and CEO.
“One of the things that we’ll be looking at doing with CARD is to go out and measure the force when a 100,000-tonne iceberg impacts a structure.”
Randell said the new centre will be able to answer questions on Arctic developments for decades to come.
“This will be the go-to place to get those answers … for oil and gas exploration, or for any operation offshore in the Arctic, whether it’s oil and gas, whether it’s offshore mining in the Arctic.”
Randell said CARD may also be able to contribute to the development of offshore resources off Labrador.
“Fifteen years ago, we thought Labrador was uneconomical because of the ice … as we have studied it and continued to go back and revisit, we have learned that it is not as risky as was originally thought, he said.”
Randell said the work on the new centre begins immediately, but the building expansion won’t be completed until 2013.
Construction — which will add two storeys to the Dr. Jack Clark building — is scheduled to begin in September.
In the meantime, the centre’s employees will be accommodated in C-CORE’s Capt. Bob Bartlett building next door.
“It will be a little cramped, but it’s not going to stop us from ramping up,” said Randell.
The centre will have 30 full-time employees, along with 15-20 visiting experts and students.
C-CORE currently employs 85 people.
Offshore oil industry
Paul Leonard, president of Hibernia Management and Development Co., said the new centre will improve the industry’s ability to produce and transport oil and gas from “ice-and iceberg-prone regions” and other Arctic areas around the world.
“In just over the past 20 years, since the construction phase and now the production phase of Hibernia, we have seen significant improvements in technology,” Leonard said.
“Research and development associated with operating in harsh Arctic climates has enabled the development of Hibernia and the Hibernia southern extension subsea project.”
Sandy Martin, East Coast vice-president for Suncor, said the work of C-CORE has helped the company manage its Newfoundland offshore operations “where harsh environments are the norm.
“It’s so fitting the province, which is home to Iceberg Alley, will be the location of the centre of Arctic research and development,” Martin said.
Of the $17 million for CARD, $7 million will be spent building expansion. The remaining $10 million goes toward operations — mostly spent on salaries — over five years.