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Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering appointed

By Meaghan Whelan

Memorial University Professor Dr. Lesley James has been appointed as the inaugural Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering.

In late 2010, Chevron Canada Limited, the Research & Development Corporation of Newfoundland and Labrador (RDC) and Memorial University announced a five-year, $1-million dollar partnership to create a chair that would strengthen the capacity for petroleum engineering research in the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Chevron's contribution of $500,000 is being utilized to establish the chair position. RDC is also investing $500,000 in partnership with Chevron to increase research and development in petroleum engineering given its importance to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador's offshore petroleum industry. Its funding comes from its CollaborativeR&D Program.

"On behalf of Chevron Canada, I want to congratulate Dr. James on being selected as the Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering," said Mark MacLeod, vice-president (Atlantic Canada), Chevron Canada.

"I am confident that her work will strengthen industry-relevant, petroleum engineering research in the province."

Dr. James, who assumed the position on Dec. 1, 2011, has a blend of academic and industry experience. She holds a PhD in chemical engineering and has worked as a management consultant. Her research, which is largely focused on enhanced oil recovery (EOR), aims to improve the percentage of oil recovered from petroleum reservoirs. As the Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering, Dr. James will research ways to maximize the recovery of oil from offshore Newfoundland and Labrador fields based on an understanding of their fluid-fluid and rock-fluid interactions. Dr. James is also excited by the opportunity this work provides to bring locally relevant, real-world data and industry challenges into the classroom and teaching laboratory.

"Industry relevance and applying science to real world problems is really important to me," she said. "I'm looking forward to tackling some of the interesting challenges that are present in the local offshore industry. Extending the production life of a field through EOR, and maximizing those valuable resources, will yield tremendous benefits for both industry and the province. EOR is field specific and, coupled with the challenges of remote offshore locations, it's a very exciting area of research."

"The Chevron Chair in Petroleum Engineering represents a new focus on upstream oil and gas research at Memorial University. Dr. James will be leading this effort through a world-class program of applied research," said Dr. Christopher Loomis, vice-president (research). "It is also a further illustration of how Memorial, in partnership with industry and the RDC, is addressing the needs of and helping to build future prosperity for our province."

In 2008, Memorial University was selected for Chevron Corporation's University Partnership Program. Through this program, support is provided to a global network of more than 95 colleges and universities to develop talent in key academic disciplines, foster research capacity, increase community engagement and build relationships critical to the global workforce.