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BP, MIT and the University of Manchester Link up to Research Engineering Materials and Corrosion


BP has selected the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Manchester as its academic research partners to further investigate materials and corrosion science and technology. This long-term research relationship aims to enhance BP’s operational integrity and reliability in its exploration and production business.

BP today announced the launch of a major research collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Manchester. BP and the universities will work together on materials and corrosion research, as it applies to oilfield applications. The initial investment from BP has been $2 million, with the company intending to match this for up to a further four years.

The initial emphasis of the research collaboration will be on materials and corrosion science - including corrosion and corrosion-fatigue modelling, environmental cracking, novel coatings and new monitoring technology. This will extend over time to other mechanical integrity and reliability related subject areas.

As BP’s operations move into more severe environments - deeper reservoirs, higher pressures, higher temperatures, higher fluid velocities - it needs materials and corrosion technologies to perform under increasingly harsh conditions. Equally, as oil and gas assets age, corrosion management becomes crucial to achieving safe, reliable and efficient operation of processing facilities and infrastructure.

BP’s Inherently Reliable Facilities (IRF) upstream flagship technology programme is responsible for the further development of the company’s fundamental understanding of engineering materials and corrosion. The collaboration with MIT and Manchester will provide innovative, interdisciplinary academic input and support to the IRF programme.
“Corrosion control, mitigation, and monitoring are significant concerns in our industry” said Simon Webster, BP’s Vice-President for the IRF flagship. “We recognised that the future success of the IRF programme depends on having reliable long-term access to highly specialised materials and corrosion expertise and laboratory facilities. Our collaboration with MIT and Manchester will provide us with the world-class research access we need.”

“This further investment by BP significantly advances our long standing relationship with the company across a wide range of engineering and management programmes” said Professor Colin Bailey, Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at Manchester. “In addition, it recognises the importance of the research underway at the University and will support the consolidation of the University’s position as a world leader in corrosion control and materials research in extreme environments, which is relevant across the entire energy sector.”

For MIT, Professor Ron Ballinger noted that “The MIT/BP collaboration is an exciting opportunity to develop a fundamental understanding of the underlying mechanisms of environmental degradation and the application of this understanding to the development of advanced materials for use in extreme environments such as those found in the oil and gas industry.” Professor Ned Thomas added, “Advanced energy production systems are increasingly materials limited so it is critical that our graduates are well versed in the role of extreme environments on materials behaviour and, in particular, the role of corrosion in real engineering systems.”
Steve Groves, BP’s IRF Programme Manager, said that “BP is delighted to begin this collaboration with MIT and Manchester. By joining forces with like-minded research and technology organizations, we can apply a ’bigger brain’ to the challenging issues we face. This will have a real impact on BP’s bottom line, through our operational integrity and performance.”

A rigorous selection process was used to identify the right university partners, with MIT and Manchester chosen based on their strong reputation and capabilities in the relevant fields. This research programme will form part of BP’s global commitment to MIT and Manchester as leading academic research establishments.

As part of this long-term relationship, BP will also fund curriculum development at the two universities in order to help build a higher profile for oilfield materials and corrosion science in undergraduate and graduate education. In this connection, BP will also provide support for the Corrosion and Reliability Engineering initiative at The University of Akron, USA, in the form of a one-off commitment of $500,000. Through these collaborations, BP intends to support the development of the next generation of materials and corrosion specialists, as well as provide training and development opportunities for current BP staff.
Note to editors:

* BP’s Inherently Reliable Facilities (IRF) flagship technology programme was created to help ensure that the company’s exploration and production facilities are safe, reliable and efficient. The IRF team is helping BP to improve and standardise its upstream capabilities in a wide range of areas, including corrosion control, materials selection, and inspection. These are all crucial elements for successful operations.

IRF has a high-level goal of delivering one billion incremental barrels of non-proven reserves by extending the life of BP’s facilities and enhancing its ability to process aggressive fluids safely and efficiently. It also plays a crucial role in helping to protect BP’s privilege to operate around the world, and in optimising the cost of building and operating E&P facilities and infrastructure.

IRF is a dedicated team of 20 engineers based in Sunbury, UK, and Houston, USA, who work closely with colleagues in the BP E&P segment to identify business needs, and then develop and deploy technology solutions.
* At MIT, Professors Ron Ballinger (Nuclear Science and Engineering [NSE] and Director of the H.H. Uhlig Corrosion Laboratory) and Ned Thomas (Materials Science and Engineering [MSE] and Head of the Department of MSE) are the co-Principal Investigators respectively leading the research and curriculum development efforts. The BP Centre will combine advanced modelling and simulation with state of the art experimental techniques. The MIT team includes Professors Chris Schuh and Michael Demkowicz of MSE and Bilge Yildiz and Sid Yip of NSE.

* The University of Manchester is the UK’s largest single-site university with more than 35,400 undergraduate and postgraduate students and 5,800 academic and research staff across 22 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups. The University has an annual income of more than £680 million and had a total research expenditure of £375 million in 2006-07.

The Corrosion and Protection Centre’s research, at the University of Manchester, is supported by more than 70 students and research workers and 11 academic staff, making it the largest academic-based institute of its kind.
* The University of Akron’s College of Engineering anticipates launching the first bachelor’s degree programme in corrosion engineering in the USA. Initial funding for the programme is provided by the U.S. Department of Defense, with student enrolment slated to begin next year. The gift from BP’s IRF flagship will be used to develop curriculum, deliver courses to undergraduate and graduate students, and advance workforce development, as it relates to the upstream oil and gas industry.
* IRF is also working to develop deeper relationships with two commercial laboratories (NPL in Teddington, UK, and Intertek Westport in Houston, USA), based on test work related to chemical inhibition, corrosion monitoring and materials performance. It is envisaged that these two laboratories will input expertise and facilities into the university research, in line with their capabilities.


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