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April 6, 1999

Sandia and University of Oklahoma establish new technical center to aid domestic energy producers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- A new Well Construction Technology Center to make US oil, gas, and geothermal energy production more economical has been established by the Department of Energy's Sandia National Laboratories and the University of Oklahoma's Petroleum and Geologic Engineering Department. Advanced technology research and development work will be done cooperatively, with some projects done at each institution.

The new center was announced by Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson at an April 2 ceremony in Oklahoma City. Also attending and signing the establishing agreement were Okla. Gov. Frank Keating, University of Oklahoma President David Boren, and Sandia Executive Vice President Joan Woodard.

Richardson said the partnership will "help US producers meet a larger percentage of our energy needs and recover more oil from existing wells. This is a great example of how our national labs are working closely with industry and academia to ensure that we have the energy this country needs."

The center will be jointly managed by the University of Oklahoma, which has a record of success in science and technology development for the exploration and production of oil and gas, and Sandia, which has been DOE's lead laboratory for drilling technology for the past 20 years. The agreement does not spell out financial details, but is a first step to facilitate technical collaboration. Funding arrangements for specific projects will be announced later.

"We are delighted about our new relationship with the University of Oklahoma," said Sandia's Joan Woodard. "The resulting innovative technology will benefit both our energy industries and the US consumer in the long run. Sandia's scientists and engineers are excited about working with OU's outstanding technical research staff."

Woodard notes that OU's Department of Petroleum and Geologic Engineering has strong ties to a large number of US producers and oil companies and a reputation for working closely with them. "They are well positioned to conduct advanced research and technology development in a wide range of topics related to well construction, advanced drilling systems, geosciences, and reservoir engineering," she said.

Sandia has a variety of technology development activities, including modeling and simulation using high-performance computers, advanced sensing and information systems, robotics, and micro-machine technology. Sam Varnado, Director of Sandia's Energy and Critical Infrastructure Center, will administer the agreement for the Albuquerque laboratory.

Sandia is a multiprogram DOE laboratory, operated by a subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major research and development responsibilities in national security, energy, and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.

Media contact:
Larry Perrine, lgperri@sandia.gov, (505) 845-8511

Technical contact:
Sam Varnado, sgvarna@sandia.gov, (505) 845-9555

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