TU, ChevronTexaco To Start Model Partnership; $500,000 Invested to Begin Research Center

Friday, July 26, 2002

The University of Tulsa and energy industry giant ChevronTexaco have initiated a research and educational partnership with seed money of $500,000. ChevronTexaco’s research funding, including existing and new programs, could eventually exceed $1 million annually.

The collaboration, considered a new model that could be implemented at other universities, is known as TU’s Center of Research Excellence, or CORE.

“ChevronTexaco is a premiere global energy company and The University of Tulsa has a national and international reputation in petroleum engineering education and research,” says Steve Bellovich, TU’s dean of engineering and natural sciences. “This center combines the strengths of both partners, and the benefits will prove that the whole can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.”

Well before last year’s merger, Chevron and Texaco had already been long-term supporters of the university by funding scholarships, sponsoring students and participating in many of TU’s research consortia.

But CORE will be different, says Kevin Lacy, who oversees key ingredients of ChevronTexaco’s drilling operations, including staffing and employee development and who also was the original project manager.

“We will both get more out of this kind of collaboration,” says Lacy, who joined ChevronTexaco after graduating from TU in 1980 with a degree in petroleum engineering. Some joint research endeavors last only two or three years until a specific problem posed by industry is solved. From a University perspective this creates a very unstable program that is difficult to manage efficiently and recruit top students.

Lacy says the availability of his company’s professionals, including staff who can serve as project managers, and the company’s commitment to funding will assure continuity for both the company’s research needs and the university’s educational function.

“With CORE, we can count on a research center that will establish a history of related projects and expertise and where undergraduates can get hands-on, cutting-edge research experience,” says Lacy. “Also, graduate students can complete the years-long studies that complement their theses topics.”

Lacy says TU was an ideal choice for the center because ChevronTexaco wanted to pair up with a university with a record of success in oil and gas research. TU’s affiliation with the world’s oil and gas industry goes back nearly a century.

Research will focus on flow assurance and several pilot projects are under way. Projects must be approved by a six-member board with equal representation from TU and Chevron-Texaco.

CORE’s objectives include training students, particularly from countries where ChevronTexaco operates, such as Angola and Kazakhstan. It will also involve training of company personnel, short courses, seminars led by visiting experts, and distance learning.

Bellovich says TU was chosen for several reasons. “We are small, versatile, private and personal,” he says. “That means that personal relationships are easy to establish and maintain and we don’t have a bureaucracy to slow anything down.”

In TU’s consortia, many companies contribute funds and share research results. However, in the ChevronTexaco center, Bellovich explains, some of the research will be more fundamental rather than applied in nature and ChevronTexaco will be intimately involved in every phase, including selection of research projects.

As energy companies continue to explore ways to increase cost-efficiency while enhancing research and learning opportunities, this new center can help meet that need, Lacy says. Companies such as ChevronTexaco will have access to some of the school’s top graduate students while developing a powerful new collaborative model to help solve some of the industry’s toughest challenges.

ChevronTexaco, headquartered in San Francisco, is the fourth largest publicly traded company in terms of oil and gas reserves. Active in more than 180 countries, the company has a work force of about 53,000.