The University of Arizona College of Engineering has received a software license valued at $23 million from Schlumberger, the world's leading oilfield services company.
Schlumberger granted the multi-year license to the UA College of Engineering's department of mining and geological engineering. Schlumberger's industry-standard software is used widely throughout the oil and gas exploration and production industries, but its application in the mining industry is less common.
Mary Poulton, head of the mining and geological department, sees the Schlumberger software license as a chance to change this. "It is an opportunity to use state-of-the-art software from the oil and gas industry and see how it can be adapted to mining and environmental applications," said Poulton, who is director of the UA's Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.
Professor Mary Poulton, head of the mining and geological department, and director of the UA's Lowell Institute for Mineral Resources.
Poulton's lab will host the software, but she said it will be available to other departments who can benefit from using it, such as geosciences, hydrology, and soil, water and environmental science. The software will also influence the curriculum: "We will be developing new courses around the software," Poulton said. "Any student in our program who takes a class using the software or needs it for their research can have access."
The $23 million license consists of software valued at $14,654,083 and maintenance worth $8,791,704. "Industry-standard software packages in the oil and mining businesses are really expensive, particularly in oil," Poulton said.
The specific software packages covered under the license are Petrel, workflow management software for mineral exploration and development; Eclipse, an oil and gas reservoir simulation program; and Techlog, a set of petrophysics analytical tools for oil and gas drilling.
Schlumberger's software will enhance the high-tech facilities already available in the mining and geological engineering department and Institute for Mineral Resources, whose mine control room simulator is shown in the photo.
Poulton expects the software to be available by the fall 2012 semester, and sees great potential for new research areas arising out of this cross-industry application. "As we look at crossover technology from the oil and gas industry to mining, a natural technology is the software to map and interpret geology, geophysics, and fluid movements in the subsurface," she said.
"We think there are exciting research opportunities to see the potential transfer of knowledge to our challenges in in situ mining, leaching, environmental management, and water management," Poulton said. "We are grateful to Schlumberger for making this donation and allowing us to expand our frontier of knowledge."