ChevronTexaco & USC to Establish Oilfield Technology Center

The University of Southern California and ChevronTexaco plan to establish a new center to develop advanced technologies to improve oil and gas exploration and production efficiency. Lloyd Armstrong, provost of the University of Southern California; C. L. Max Nikias, dean of the USC School of Engineering; and Don Paul, vice president and chief technology officer at ChevronTexaco, signed a memorandum of understanding outlining the establishment of the Center of Interactive Smart Oilfield Technologies (CiSoft) at USC.

ChevronTexaco will provide R&D funding to establish the center, which will draw upon faculty expertise and resources within the USC School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute, the Integrated Media System Center, and the Petroleum Engineering Program. CiSoft will focus on the research and development of integrated technologies targeted to the operations of instrumented, intelligent oil and gas fields. ChevronTexaco employees will directly participate in the center's R&D program and the company will provide real-world drilling and production data from oil and gas fields from around the world. ChevronTexaco also plans to provide additional research investments as expanded programs develop within CiSoft.

"Through this partnership, ChevronTexaco and USC hope to create an exceptional learning environment for engineering students while accelerating the development of advanced oil field technologies in this area," said Nikias.

In addition to research and development, CiSoft will support a strong educational component, drawing top graduates from across the world. Nikias said the engineering school will create a new master of science degree program which uniquely integrates information technology and petroleum engineering.

"The USC School of Engineering is recognized for leadership and innovation in many areas, but has earned particular distinction for its work in information and communications technology, advanced visualization, and petroleum engineering. Adding energy to the strong relationships the school has with the defense and entertainment industries will make this a unique environment for developing new technologies for real-time engineering and operations," said Paul.

CiSoft will form an integral component of ChevronTexaco's i-field(a) program, which is focused on the integration of field automation, reservoir simulation technologies, new and emerging well technologies, and real-time reservoir management. Advances in i-field technologies and enhanced workflows will help reduce field development costs, speed up the analysis of information, and enhance operational reliability.

CiSoft's co-executive directors will be Mike Hauser, i-field program manager at ChevronTexaco Exploration and Production Technology Company, and Iraj Ershaghi, USC professor of chemical engineering and director of the Petroleum Engineering Program.

CiSoft is the most recent center formed as part of ChevronTexaco's strategy to develop unique, new research and educational partnership structures between the energy industry and universities. Last year, ChevronTexaco joined with the University of Tulsa to form the Center of Research Excellence in production fluid flow, which is conducting research in the areas of flow assurance, specifically the study of emulsions and multiphase flow, dispersions, and heavy-oil chemistry.

The USC School of Engineering, with more than 4,000 students, is the largest private engineering school in the western United States. U.S. News & World Report has ranked the school's overall graduate program eighth in the nation for the past two years. The Petroleum Engineering Program is ranked ninth.