Consortium Receives $1.5 Million for Center for Environmental Research

Friday, March 12, 1999

A consortium of four universities in Oklahoma and Arkansas has received $1.5 million from the Environmental Protection Agency to establish a research center to help find inexpensive solutions for environmental problems within the petroleum industry.

Members of the Integrated Petroleum Environmental Consortium (IPEC) are the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, the University of Arkansas and The University of Tulsa.

The consortium received a similar allocation last year. In addition, IPEC received $375,000 in matching funds from the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education last year and a similar amount has been pledged this year.

“IPEC is developing cost-effective solutions for environmental problems that represent some of the greatest challenges to the competitiveness of the domestic petroleum industry and is providing much-needed technology transfer to the small independent producers,” says Kerry Sublette, IPEC director and Sarkeys Professor of Environmental Engineering at TU.

“The need to transfer and develop effective, low-cost environmental technology for the domestic petroleum industry is more critical than ever as large petroleum companies divest their domestic holdings,” adds J. Berton Fisher, chair of IPEC’s Industrial Advisory Board and director of science and technology in the Tulsa office of the Gardere & Wynne law firm. “Application of effective, low-cost environmental technology will protect and improve our environment,” he says. “In addition, implementation of such technologies will reduce the liability exposure of both larger petroleum companies and their successors in interest.”

The consortium has already approved $661,916 for six research proposals, for which investigators have also obtained $598,331 in matching funds. Research topics include the use of plants to clean contaminated soils; natural degradation of gasoline by microorganisms in the absence of oxygen; using petroleum sludges as road materials; the control of the formation of toxic hydrogen sulfide in oil wells; development of simple sampling devices to replace live organisms to assess toxicity in contaminated soils; and the treatment of naturally occurring radioactive material in oil production equipment.

As part of its technology transfer goals, IPEC will establish and maintain an Internet home page; establish a technology transfer hot line; offer workshops for independent producers on regulatory compliance and on remediation and first response to spills of produced fluids; and provide scholarships for regulatory technical personnel to attend the yearly International Petroleum Environmental Conference.

For more information on IPEC’s programs, contact Dr. Sublette at (918) 631-3085 or by e-mail at kerry-sublette@utulsa.edu.