Physics professor at UH called to testify on ultradeep water exploration

05/04/04

Arthur B. Weglein offers expert testimony before Congress

HOUSTON, May 04, 2004 Arthur B. Weglein, UH professor in the physics and geosciences departments, testified to legislators last week about the challenges in exploration and production of energy sources in ultradeep water.

As director of the University of Houston's Mission-Oriented Seismic Research Program (M-OSRP), a research program and petroleum industry consortium started in January 2001, Weglein was chosen to testify as an expert witness before the Commerce and Energy Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives.

"This is the second time Weglein has been called as a witness in Washington and is good recognition for UH and our college," said Laura Vailas, assistant dean for the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. "He was called to testify to the U.S. Congress Science Committee in 2003."

A Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Professor of Physics at UH, Weglein addressed the new proposed ultradeep energy bill (H.R. 6: Energy Policy Act of 2003), a comprehensive bill that contains provisions addressing ultradeep water research and development. The hearing was titled "Ultradeep Water Research and Development: What Are the Benefits?"

This bill contains incentives for domestic oil and gas production, including R&D provisions for ultradeep drilling that provide the U.S. with viable solutions to move America toward energy independence. It is predicted that H.R. 6 will create nearly one million jobs, promote conservation and reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, as well as increase oil and natural gas exploration and development, encourage more alternative and renewable power usage and promote energy efficiency and conservation.

"I was asked to address the topic generally, reflecting on specific R&D issues in going to deeper water and cooperation between industry and academia in addressing those challenges," Weglein said.

Topics covered included assessing the chances of increased energy for the U.S. from going to deeper water and determining the challenges and value of going to deeper water for increasing reserves. A novel and distinct aspect of this proposed legislation is the recognition that the expertise needed to define and address the technical challenges in ultradeep water resides within the petroleum industry, and, therefore, requires partnership, leadership and management of the R&D program with Department of Energy administration and petroleum industry guidance and management.

"The M-OSRP success and experience of working in cooperation between UH students and faculty and petroleum industry experts to define, address and solve problems that would have the biggest positive impact on our ability to locate and produce hydrocarbons, aligns with the petroleum industry's central interest for improved, reliable prediction and reduced risk," Weglein said. "It also services the interests of education for our students and seismic advancement and research.

"That experience is considered relevant to an effective cooperative R&D program between the government and the petroleum industry," he said. "The higher costs of drilling in deep and ultradeep water and concomitant reduced tolerance for dry holes provides a tremendous economic impetus to provide solutions to the outstanding technical challenges, allowing currently inaccessible resources to become accessible in the ultradeep offshore U.S. and around the world."

Source: Eurekalert & others

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