Research lab draws big money from Hibernia, province

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Donations for a new enhanced oil recovery research lab at Memorial University of Newfoundland’s

St. John’s campus surpassed the $15-million mark on Monday.

The Hibernia Management and Development Corp. (HMDC) contributed to the project for a second time, with a $1.7-million gift on top of $11.8 million in previously announced funding.

The provincial government added to the tally, with $1.64 million through the Research and Development Corp. of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC).

The lab will be located within the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, where renovations have already begun.

“Further research in enhanced oil recovery techniques has significant potential for long-term economic impact here in the province,” said Keith Hutchings, the minister responsible for RDC, addressing a gathering of donors and university representatives at the campus Monday.

“It could lead to increased oil production, employment revenues for government. It will enhance our petroleum R&D capabilities right here in Newfoundland and Labrador.”

With Hutchings, CEO of RDC Glenn Janes applauded the lab as a collaboration between academia and private industry.

“With any luck, enhanced oil recovery will be used to help us and help the province and help (Hibernia management) get more out of the reservoir,” he said at the podium.

“Only getting a small per cent of what can’t currently be gotten will mean tens of millions or hundreds of millions of dollars or perhaps more, as the province and HMDC well know, in revenues and royalties.”

Since March 1, 2012, HMDC has contributed more than $20 million to university infrastructure and programming. In addition to the new lab for enhanced oil recovery, there has been money for the Faculty of Education, the Faculty of Earth Sciences and the Marine Institute’s Offshore Safety and Survival Centre in Foxtrap.

 

The company is required to contribute towards research, development and education projects within Newfoundland and Labrador.

According to HMDC president  Jamie Long, the spending is being done strategically, to encourage interest in science, technology and engineering studies within the province while also investing in projects with the potential to be more directly beneficial to the Hibernia partners: ExxonMobil Canada, Chevron Canada, Suncor, the Canada Hibernia Holding Corporation (Government of Canada), Murphy Oil and Statoil Canada.

“What I would say is Hibernia is a business and we have legal obligations, and we have different ways we can go about doing that. We can choose to just write a single check and give it to the province. We would meet our commitment,” he told The Telegram.

“But the things we have chosen to invest in are things that we think will either have some potential for return from a business standpoint, or have significant potential to improve the community that we live in.”

The university’s new vice-president of research, Richard Marceau, welcomed HMDC’s latest contributions.

“I think it’s all about the relationship that one creates with the funding agency, the donor, the organization,” he said, when asked about the corporate contributions.

He said student training is the foremost consideration for the university when it comes to donations for new programs and infrastructure.

“When there’s a convergence of principles and values and objectives, there shouldn’t be any problem,” he said.

 

Provincial position

Meanwhile, having attended the morning announcement, Liberal MHA Jim Bennett said the money from RDC was a positive thing, but he would rather hear about new regulations for the use of enhanced oil recovery techniques.

“Enhanced oil recovery techniques, well, that includes hydraulic fracturing,” he said.

“Only a couple of months ago, I introduced a private member’s resolution in the House of Assembly where we would have state-of-the-art hydraulic fracturing regulations in this province, and this government defeated that.”

Natural Resources Minister Tom Marshall has said he is reviewing hydraulic fracturing operations in other parts of Canada.

There are currently no requests for regulatory assessment related to hydraulic fracturing in western Newfoundland, including in Bennett’s district.

The new lab at MUN will start its work focused on enhanced oil recovery for the Hibernia and Hebron developments offshore.

 

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: Hibernia, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Development Corp. of Newfoundland and Labrador Bruneau Centre for Research Faculty of Earth Sciences Marine Institute ExxonMobil Canada Chevron Canada Canada Hibernia Holding Murphy Oil The Telegram

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Foxtrap, Canada Canada.There Bennett Hebron

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