Hess Makes Second $5 Million Commitment to UW

Gov. Matt Mead and University of Wyoming President Dick McGinity were joined today (Thursday) by Greg Hill, president and chief operating officer of Hess Corporation, to announce Hess’s second commitment to UW in the past two years.

Hess’s most recent gift commitment of $4.3 million will support the building of UW’s new High Bay Research Facility and essential technology and equipment used in the facility for research into unconventional  oil and gas reservoirs. Hess’s commitments to UW -- gifts and research -- now total $10 million, which has leveraged $8.7 million in state matching funds (first commitment recorded in March 2012).

State matching funds help UW pursue partnerships with industry leaders like Hess, which allow the university’s energy programs to achieve distinction in areas of strategic importance to Wyoming’s -- and the nation’s -- energy economy. Today’s announcement is in addition to the $8.8 million investment and state matching funds announced by Hess and the governor in January 2013 and to the $1.3 million of sponsored research projects.

“Hess Corporation has been generous in its commitment of time, expertise and money. We appreciate its investment in Wyoming’s future. The University of Wyoming has a specific plan with Hess and the other corporate partners to support the energy industry through innovation and research. Hess builds on great work already underway at UW,” Mead says.

With Hess’s support of the High Bay Research Facility, Hess and UW will expand the existing partnership to perform fundamental research on critical aspects of unconventional reservoir characterization and development. UW’s Mohammad Piri, Wyoming Excellence Chair in Petroleum Engineering, will collaborate with scientists and engineers from Hess.

“New technology is key to our continued growth,” says Greg Hill, president and chief operating officer of Hess Corporation. “Our work with UW and the Hess Digital Rocks Lab will fundamentally change our understanding of oil and gas production from unconventional resources and lead to the development of more efficient and effective recovery techniques.”

Hill is a UW alumnus, a member of the UW Foundation Board of Directors, and co-chair of the Wyoming Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force.

“The Hess Corporation’s support of UW’s energy-related research and education is exceptional and historic,” McGinity says. “Hess’s generous contribution will provide our faculty and students with a state-of-the-art facility in which to study critical issues ranging from geomechanics and reservoir studies to gas-to-liquids and coal-to-liquids. The events leading up to this announcement are a case study of how industry, the university and the state create game-changing public-private partnerships that will benefit the people of Wyoming and the nation for decades to come.”

The additional space will expand experimental capacity and allow Piri’s group to conduct multiple areas of investigation simultaneously in the Hess Digital Rock Physics Lab, thereby satisfying the demands of both academic research and private-sector partnerships and eliminating the necessity for compromise that might jeopardize Wyoming’s leading position in this research -- the micro- and core-scale physics of flow and transport in man-made and naturally occurring porous media.

“Hess has set a new standard for UW corporate partnership,” says Ben Blalock, UW Foundation president. “Greg Hill has played a key role in creating a greatly expanded opportunity for the energy industry to become aligned with UW’s energy agenda. I cannot overstate my appreciation to Greg and his Hess team.”

Today’s other speakers included Tom Botts, co-chair of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force and retired executive vice president of Royal Dutch Shell.

UW has now raised $15 million to complete funding to build the High Bay Research Facility and has advanced UW’s most significant corporate partnerships -- with Arch Coal, Baker Hughes, ExxonMobil, Halliburton, Hess, Marathon, Shell and Ultra Petroleum.

In the 2014 Wyoming legislative session, the governor and the Legislature set aside $10.5 million to match investments for technology and equipment that will build the High Bay Research Facility. A portion of Hess’s commitment -- $2.3 million -- will utilize these matching funds.

The High Bay Research Facility will contain approximately 60,000 square feet with large-scale, flexibly configured research laboratories, offices and meeting areas. It will be located on north 19th Street near the UW Centennial Complex, with completion anticipated in 2016. The facility will house labs for large-scale experiments that go beyond the size of a traditional engineering laboratory. These labs include a geomechanics lab, a core-flood facility, a structural engineering lab, and possibly a wind tunnel, along with supporting facilities and personnel.

The High Bay Research Facility is one of three energy and engineering-related facilities, two of which are planned to upgrade facilities for UW’s College of Engineering and Applied Science. The High Bay Research Facility will enhance UW’s research capacity in strategic energy areas, while a major renovation and expansion of the Engineering Building near the heart of the UW campus will provide a much-needed upgrade to existing facilities. The third facility is the Energy Innovation Center, a 27,300-square-foot facility that serves as the home of the School of Energy Resources and its various centers of excellence. Completed in 2012, it also was funded through private donations and state matching funds.

The High Bay Research Facility, Energy Innovation Center and Engineering Building projects are tied to the work of the Governor’s Energy, Engineering, STEM Integration Task Force, which released its strategy for creating a “Tier 1” engineering program at UW. UW currently is implementing many programmatic recommendations, in addition to facility upgrades, called for in the report. Hill and Botts co-chair the task force.

Hess Corporation is a leading global independent energy company engaged in the exploration and production of crude oil and natural gas. More information on Hess Corporation is available at http://www.hess.com.