Agilent Technologies Inc. and the University of Houston announced they are working together to further understanding of the geology and composition of crude oil. The collaboration will combine Agilent's expertise and state-of-the-art scientific instruments with the leading-edge petroleum research conducted within the University of Houston's Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. The goal is to create applications that provide new insights into the discovery and use of this vital resource.
Under the agreement, Agilent is providing a portfolio of instruments valued at more than $1 million, including such advanced technology as microwave plasma-atomic emission spectroscopy (MP-AES), inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC-MS), gas chromatography-triple quadrupole mass spectroscopy (GC-QQQ), and gas chromatography-quadrupole time-of-flight mass spectroscopy (GC-QTOF).
"The University of Houston is pleased to be a part of this collaboration, which is an important research effort for the oil and gas industry and its ongoing efforts to better assess proven reserves and discover new deposits," said Rathindra Bose, the university's vice chancellor/vice president for research and technology transfer. "Thanks to this agreement, researchers in our Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences will have access to the most advanced instruments available today to further their research."
The instruments will be used to identify and measure the constituents in geological specimens or to separate, identify and measure the thousands of compounds found in crude oil samples. These types of studies aid in understanding the geology of oil-bearing formations, which is useful in the search for new deposits as well as in assessing the potential for exploitation of proven reserves. In addition, improvements in the methods used to characterize crude oil will allow it to be processed more efficiently, which can improve the yield from each barrel and lower the cost of refined products.
"The state-of-the-art instruments that Agilent is furnishing through this collaborative effort will allow the research teams at the University of Houston to move to the forefront of their research areas by generating data that has not been available to them until now," said Wayne Collins, global energy manager, Agilent. "This collaboration with a premier energy university reaffirms our commitment, as the market leader in instruments for this industry, to continue to develop new technologies and applications for our customers."
Over the three-year term of the collaboration, some of the work will also focus on developing the science of shale gas, which has recently transformed the energy outlook in the United States. New technologies that have allowed this resource to be tapped have opened vast new reserves and provided low-cost feedstocks to the petrochemical and chemical industries while also providing low-cost natural gas to allow some power plants to switch from coal, lowering greenhouse gas emissions. The research aims to investigate the science behind the extraction of shale gas and liquids to aid in evaluating the potential production of a particular formation as well as to provide guidance in avoiding detrimental environmental impact to ground water.