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Multi-million dollar software suite for Earth Sciences

by Karmen Dowling | December 22, 2010

Multi-million dollar software suite for Earth Sciences
Burns Cheadle, Bell Chair in Petroleum Geology at Western, and Rob Chelak, Roxar Inc. Services Manager in the United States, shows off part of the new US$6.2-millionsuite of reservoir modeling software for the department.

Western Earth Sciences students have access to leading educators and now state-of-the-art software that will give them the skills they need to thrive when they graduate.

Thanks to a US$6.2-million donation from Roxar Software Solutions, Western’s future resource geoscientists have access to 3-D visualization software that is as much of a breakthrough for geotechnical exploration as MRI is for diagnostic medicine. This will allow students to gain insight into the evolution of the planet as well as the practical application of finding and assessing petroleum and natural gas deposits.

“Three-dimensional visualization is essential for geologists to properly analyze and describe the spatial distribution of rock attributes such as rock types, thickness, extent, porosity, and so forth,” says Burns Cheadle, Bell Chair in Petroleum Geology at Western. “With the advent of modern computer workstations and the evolution of software products, it’s no longer necessary to make an approximation when extrapolating from point data to three dimensions. Not only is this 3-D visualization capability essential for proper analysis, but it also affords a ready means for communication of interpreted results.”

Roxar is a leading international technology solutions provider to the upstream oil and gas industry (which is involved in finding, recovery and production of crude oil and natural gas). The Houston-based company provided an entire suite of reservoir modeling software for the Department of Earth Sciences, which will further enhance Western’s Resource Geoscience Initiative. The goal of the Initiative is to have the Department of Earth Sciences become the premier institution in Canada for economic and energy resource geology, ensuring Western graduates geologists who have the skills to succeed whether they are in the wilds or in the boardroom. The $41.7-million project within the Department of Earth Sciences will receive $23 million from the University, with the remaining support coming from private donations.

Cheadle says the donation came about as the result of a conversation he had with Rob Chelak, Service Manager for Roxar Inc. in the U.S. while they were attending a conference in Calgary earlier this year. The two men had worked together at Imperial Oil in Calgary during the 1980s.

“I mentioned my desire to assemble a software suite that would allow my students to gain experience using exactly the same tools currently used in the upstream oil and gas industry,” says Cheadle. “Rob offered an extremely generous donation-in-kind of five concurrent licenses of the complete RMS 2010 reservoir modeling suite.”

The Roxar donation is one of several software donations made in support of the new Petroleum Geology program during the past year, says Cheadle, all of which underscore the benefit of developing and maintaining relationships between academia and industry.

This article appeared in the Winter 2010 edition of Impact Western
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