Newfoundland and Labrador award C$312,900 to two provincial projects to research natural gas hydrates on continental margin, do seafloor mapping to assess possible petroleum reserves of western Newfoundland

NEWFOUNDLAND , August 19, 2011 (press release) – Two research projects will receive total funding of $312,900 from the Provincial Government to investigate natural gas hydrates on Newfoundland and Labrador’s continental margin and undertake seafloor mapping to assess the petroleum resource potential of Western Newfoundland.

The investments are being made through the Research & Development Corporation’s GeoEXPLORE program, which aims to enhance geoscience research and development (R&D) capacity, collaboration and innovation in Newfoundland and Labrador’s mineral and petroleum industries. Today’s funding builds on more than $960,000 in GeoEXPLORE funding that was announced on June 9, 2011. In total, more than $1.2 million is being invested in 15 projects.

“The petroleum industry remains a vital component of Newfoundland and Labrador’s economy and supporting relevant R&D projects is essential to its future growth,” said the Honourable Susan Sullivan, Minister of Innovation, Trade and Rural Development. “Through the efforts of the Research & Development Corporation, academic researchers will partner with local, national and international researchers to further enhance this province’s geoscience capacity.”

Researchers based at the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University (Marine Institute) and C-CORE will lead the two projects. They will collaborate with Statoil; the Geological Survey of Canada; United States Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement; the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Department of Natural Resources; and, the University of Calgary.

The C-CORE-led project focuses on natural gas hydrates – ice-like compounds composed of water and natural gas. The research will determine the potential for energy resources of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore, as well as identify and characterize possible geohazards affecting exploration drilling, the installation and operation of production infrastructure, and pipeline delivery systems.

The Marine Institute-led project focuses on seabed mapping as a tool to further acquire a greater understanding of the geological structures and petroleum potential of St. George’s Bay.

“GeoEXPLORE is specifically designed to enhance geoscience capacity, collaboration and industry innovation in support of both petroleum and mining exploration and development,” said Glenn Janes, Chief Executive Officer of RDC. “In order to maximize the long-term economic benefit of these important resources, we need to better understand the exploration and development potential and risks.”

GeoEXPLORE is a three-year program launched by RDC in June 2011. The program targets five areas for R&D investment: research team awards; geoscience research tools and equipment; collaborative research opportunities; post-doctoral researchers; and industry-led R&D, technology development and demonstration.

“For decades, geoscience researchers and technical staff of Memorial University have been major contributors to the mineral and oil and gas sector in Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Dr. Christopher Loomis, Vice-President (Research), Memorial University. “The new GeoEXPLORE funding builds on that legacy of expertise and impact, enabling our researchers to further the development of this province’s offshore energy resources in a safe and sustainable manner.”

GeoEXPLORE is a RDC-directed research program in support of geoscience R&D. Directed research is an internationally-recognized program framework for accelerating R&D in priority areas, and is often characterized as thematic, problem solving, capacity building, and collaborative.

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