Memorial University president and vice-chancellor Dr. Gary Kachanoski (left) and Hege Rogno, vice-president of offshore upstream with Statoil Canada, stand alongside a symbolic cheque after announcing a $1-million donation. — Photo by Joe Gibbons/The Telegram
Petroleum research at Memorial University got a shot in the arm Monday.
The sum of $2 million will go to the university over the next five years to create two new research chair positions.
MUN hopes to have the jobs filled by this spring.
The money is a joint investment by Norwegian oil company Statoil Canada and the arm’s-length government organization Research and Development Corp. (RDC).
This money will allow the university to invest in an area that will continue to see growth in the province and to attract some world-class talent, said MUN president Gary Kachanoski.
“These kinds of resources allow us to go out and recruit the best scientists in this area across the globe,” said Kachanoski.
The two newly hired faculty researchers will work in the field of reservoir engineering, which is basically the study of how to get oil out of the Earth.
In addition to their research, the chairs will eventually facilitate the creation of a new MUN research program based on petroleum engineering. Kachanoski added there is no set schedule yet for the creation of the new program, and for the immediate future the university will focus on filling the two new research chairs.
It is hoped the work of these two people will result in MUN graduates entering the workforce in a growing field, and with its investment Statoil will stand ready to reap the benefits.
Statoil is currently in the exploratory phase of its Newfoundland and Labrador operations. It has several projects underway here and already has a stake in some of the province’s current offshore oil production.
But someday in the near future the company will start producing oil from its Newfoundland and Labrador holdings and when that day comes it will need all the specialized people it can get, said Hege Rogno, vice-president of offshore upstream with Statoil Canada.
“This is a long-term investment,” she said in reference to the company’s oil exploration efforts.
“To get there we need to find the resources in the ground, but we also need the people to help us build. So investment into education and training is of immense value and immense importance to us. So we see this as a win-win,” she said.
Investments like the one made Monday can also lead to further opportunities in both the research and technology fields, said Keith Hutchings, minister of innovation, business and rural development and minister responsible for the RDC.
The minster also praised both of the donors and the university for their foresight and hard work.
“Their combined effort demonstrates the real commitment that exists in advancing the province’s oil and gas industry. This commitment exemplifies what can be accomplished through the cumulative and collective strength of academia, industry and government,” said Hutchings.