New MUN research chair announced

Noia final day included work updates from ExxonMobil and Hebron contractors

Published on June 21, 2013
Andrew Barry - president of ExxonMobil Canada

Chevron led the news at the Noia oil and gas conference in St. John’s Thursday with the announcement of new research chair funding and a new seismic data project for offshore Newfoundland.

Along with the existing Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), company vice-president Mark Macleod said the university will now become home to a Chevron Chair in Reservoir Characterization.

In spending of $5 million over three years, the new position has been created through a three-way partnership between the company, the Research and Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC) and the university.

Alison Malcolm will start in the job in summer 2014. She is an assistant professor of geophysics and research chair at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and will be tasked with developing an applied research program at MUN for petroleum geology and geophysics.

“The offshore oil and gas fields of Newfoundland and Labrador provide a natural laboratory for the study of petroleum geology,” said MUN president Gary Kachanoski, in a statement issued following Macleod’s address.

Kachanoski is currently with Premier Kathy Dunderdale on the provincial government’s trade mission to China.

Meanwhile, Noia conferencegoers were told new seismic data is scheduled to be collected in the area of the Hibernia and Hebron sites.

Seismic data has previously been collected around the area, but this time the work will be completed using new technology from WesternGeco, a business segment of Schlumberger.

Macleod said the new tech allows for a resolution as much as 32 times greater that standard collection methods. He gave the comparison of trying to identify something from a collection of X-rays versus a CT scan.


Prior to the update on Chevron’s activities, ExxonMobil Canada’s president Andrew Barry spoke about that company’s activities, including on the Hibernia Southern Extension project.

He followed with updates on the Hebron project — both the topsides and the base of the gravity based structure.   

“Bull Arm is a hive of activity,” Barry said, providing an accurate description of what local media representatives were shown at the site earlier in the week.

Lead hands for each of the two main Hebron contractors offered a detailed rundown of work schedules, procurement opportunities, hires and other data — much of which will be made available publicly in the next Hebron benefits report, to be posted online.

In the presentations, several local companies received specific mention including: MetalWorld, where first steel for the living quarters for the platform was cut; PF Collins, with the company tasked with seeing items are properly packed, shipped and delivered; and C&W Offshore, awarded the contract for fabrication and supply of a helideck for the platform.

Both Astor Nyborg, for base builder Kiewit-Kvaerner Contractors (KKC) and Neil Robertson, for topsides builders WorleyParsons noted their safety records to date. The KKC team has gone over 3.5 million person hours without incident, Nyborg said, while Robertson said more than four million person hours have gone into the topsides without a single lost-time injury.