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Tapping potential

Funding announced for new Centre for Arctic Resource Development at C-CORE

C-CORE, an international leader in research and development based at Memorial University in Newfoundland and Labrador, is launching a major new initiative to help unlock the potential of the Arctic's rich – and largely untapped – natural resources, thanks to $16.5 million in combined funding announced June 20 by the Hibernia and Terra Nova projects and the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC).

The funding will establish the Centre for Arctic Resource Development (CARD).
The Arctic is of critical importance for Canada: its vast and challenging landscape holds significant natural resources. In order to maximize those resources, the challenges of the operating environment must be understood and addressed through new technology solutions.

"World-class, industry-driven R&D and proven operational capability is helping position Newfoundland & Labrador as a centre of technological excellence for oil and gas (O&G) projects in ice-prone regions," said Shawn Skinner, minister of Natural Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador. "Building on the existing base of expertise, the CARD will help position this province, its industry and its institutes as the centre of technological excellence for Arctic O&G development."

The Hibernia and Terra Nova projects have driven technology development and provided invaluable learnings for oil and gas (O&G) development in harsh, cold-ocean environments.

Together, the Hibernia and Terra Nova projects will contribute $12.5 million over five years ($2.5 million per year) to support leading-edge research projects and programs, as well as technology development.

RDC will provide $4 million to allow C-CORE to expand and enhance its facilities at Memorial to accommodate the new researchers; its funding is provided under the R&D Platforms element of its April 2010 $10 million competitive call for R&D infrastructure proposals.

The centre will bring together industry, academic and technology partners to conduct medium- to long- term research and development focused on improving Canada's capacity and capability to support safe, responsible, cost-effective and sustainable hydrocarbon development in Arctic and other ice and iceberg prone regions.

In addition to 30-40 new high-technology jobs, the funding will allow for a 1,260 square metre expansion to C-CORE's existing Dr. Jack Clark Geotechnical Engineering Building on Memorial's St. John's campus.

Operating year-round in the Arctic, or even offshore Labrador, is an extraordinarily expensive prospect. CARD will pursue research activities to fill the gaps currently making many Arctic developments prohibitive. The research program will be guided by a five-year R&D plan that has been approved by an advisory body of experts for potential to improve exploration and production in harsh, cold environments.

The centre's expertise will be primarily engineering, but it will interface with experts in many fields, in order to develop the knowledge, tools, technologies and methodologies needed for Arctic development.

Dr. Gary Kachanoski, president and vice-chancellor of Memorial University, welcomed the new centre.

"Memorial has a substantial research capacity in arctic resource development and operations in harsh environments," said Dr. Kachanoski. "The Centre for Arctic Resource Development is a significant expansion of our existing oil and gas-related research and development facilities and will be invaluable as we further develop our understanding of the best practices for safety, sustainability and efficiency in northern regions."

CARD will function as a stand-alone research centre within C-CORE, with C-CORE providing space and business support services. The centre's research program will be overseen by an industry advisory committee who will provide direction for the research programs, projects and technology development.

C-CORE was created 36 years ago to address the technological challenges then facing oil and gas development offshore Newfoundland and Labrador; it has conducted considerable R&D for Hibernia and Terra Nova.