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March 18, 2004
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Landmark gift greeted with optimism
By Michelle Osmond
"It’s amazing that MUN is getting this technology. It’s the most advanced software in the industry. I’m very excited about it.” That was Victoria Hardy’s reaction to the announcement that Landmark Graphics has donated visualization software to the university worth nearly $14 million (US). The software will be used in a Decision Centre, a three-dimensional visualization centre where research teams can collaborate to better understand the oil and gas reservoirs.

Ms. Hardy is a master’s student in the Department of Earth Sciences and she’s one of the many Memorial students who will be using the software in the Decision Centre, due to be built this September. To her, and many of her colleagues, more information equals more success. With this software, researchers will be viewing operations and data in real time. For example, if a rig is drilling a well and there are sensors on the drill bit and at the bore hole, researchers can view it as it happens.

But Ms. Hardy is not just excited about the viewing seismic data from Newfoundland’s offshore. She knows she’ll have a better chance of attaining a good job after graduation.

“This is huge asset for us because it’s what’s being used right now around the world,” she said. “It’s the most advanced technology we can possibly have.”

She adds that the geology of this province is very complex. “We’ll graduate with an understanding of the processes and the techniques. Companies would normally have to retrain us with this technology. Now we’ll understand it before we get to the job market.”

Plus, she notes Memorial has always had a good reputation for earth sciences and engineering but this will take it a giant step forward; increasing competition between students, faculty and businesses wanting to come to this province.

Cabot Martin is president of Deer Lake Oil and Gas. He agrees that the more exciting and informative the technology used for exploration, the more business will be attracted.

“We’d like to see the petroleum geosciences community grow any way it can,” he said. “Also, we have some innovative applications we think would be appropriate for unexplored areas like the Deer Lake basin.”

Mr. Martin says it’s obvious from the technical literature that the Landmark software is a tool that has been very effective in oil and gas exploration. “It might be too early to predict what the long term spin offs will be from having this technology, but I suspect it will be quite large. I think the oil and gas industry is central to our economy and anything that develops additional exploration skills will directly affect the economy.”

Mr. Cabot said it’s a great benefit to have the Landmark technology in the community. “It’s one thing to gather expertise from away but it’s much more important to have daily, frequent and personal interaction with researchers and consultants.”

For him, graduates who are familiar with this software with the ability to analyze alternative exploration tactics are much more valuable as future employees. “The Department of Earth Sciences at Memorial has been key to the development of our company and we see this as another giant building block in that process.”

Ms. Hardy says she’s not sure what she’ll look for her first time sitting in the Decision Centre but there is something she may have to get used to. “I’ve heard it can be pretty nauseating in this 3-D environment, so it may take some time to adjust. But that’s all part of the excitement.” Memorial will be the only university in Canada to offer this training environment for students.


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Next issue: April 8, 2004

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