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Texas Aggies Collaborate in Shale Gas, E&P Research

Texas A&M University (TAMU) has launched a multidisciplinary research approach at home and abroad to support shale gas and natural gas exploration, production and monetization activities.

The Gas and Fuels Research Center (GFRC), to be based at the TAMU at Qatar campus in the TAMU Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), will involve 19 professors from the Qatar campus and the main campus in College Station, TX, that represent chemical, petroleum, materials and mechanical engineering disciplines. TEES is an engineering research agency of the state of Texas and is a member of the TAMU System.

The center is designed to "create new knowledge that has direct bearing on one of the pillars of Qatar's energy and industry sector," said TAMU at Qatar CEO Mark H. Weichold. "Through this collaborative effort with TEES, Texas A&M at Qatar will utilize its world-class, Doha-based laboratory facilities and expertise to export knowledge created here to the U.S. and beyond."

Qatar is home to some of the largest gas resources on the planet. Royal Dutch Shell plc's gas-to-liquids (GTL) plant, Pearl GTL, is the largest built to date in the world (see Daily GPI, March 25, 2011). State-owned Qatar Petroleum International also is the majority stakeholder (70%) in the proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export complex, Golden Pass LNG, planned for Sabine Pass, TX, which it is sponsoring with ExxonMobil Corp. (see Daily GPI, July 7).

The key objective of the overseas center is to lead integrated research activities and resources in supporting gas activities in the two countries. The center also would support the U.S. shale gas "evolution" and be a part of the Research Strategic Plan that is helping to support the Qatar National Vision 2030, according to officials.

"The Gas and Fuels Research Center is a major initiative from Texas A&M University to take the lead in the natural gas era," said GFRC Director Nimir Elbashir. "The center provides a unique opportunity for leading researchers from the two campuses of Texas A&M University to collaborate in supporting Qatar and U.S. industry and governmental institutions to build the future natural gas utilization technologies.

"One of the center's main objectives is to train highly skilled engineers and technical staff to support the future of gas processing technologies and to educate the community about the role natural gas will play as a clean source of energy and fuels."

GFRC Managing Director Mahmoud El-Halwagi, who is based in College Station, said it was a "critical time for the gas and fuels industry.

"The recent substantial discoveries of shale gas in the U.S. are creating numerous opportunities and needs. It is expected that the growth in shale gas industry in the U.S. will lead to investments exceeding $100 billion over the next decade. The state of Texas is regarded as the 'energy capital of the world' and the State of Qatar is considered to be the 'gas capital of the world.' Therefore, it is a great advantage to have Texas A&M University both in Qatar and College Station to provide leadership through GFRC, especially in areas such as research, education and outreach for the gas and fuels industry."

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