Oil ties between Texas and Norway grow stronger

An informal relationship going back decades became official with the launch of the NorTex Research Collaborative, linking researchers in Texas and Norway.

Norwegian Consul General Jostein Mykletun said the collaborative will focus on energy and medicine, with the NorTex Petroleum Cluster already beginning work.

Mykletun and Arne Graue, a faculty member at the University of Bergen in Bergen, Norway, described the petroleum project to a gathering at Rice University Monday.

Mykletun said the collaborative grew out of the Transatlantic Science Week conference, sponsored by the Norwegian government and held in Houston last fall.

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About 600 people participated in that conference, including 200 people from Norway.

“There is a trend in foreign service to focus on science and technology,” Mykletun said. “It used to be an add-on. I think that is changing.”

He noted that Houston is home of the largest Norwegian expatriate community in the world, with about 12,000 residents. About 150 Norwegian companies have offices here; as many as 3,000 Norwegians will be in town next week for the Offshore Technology Conference.

That includes Norwegian Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit, as well as the country’s oil minister.

Graue said the NorTex Petroleum Cluster will collaborate on expanding petroleum education and research projects between universities.

Universities involved include Rice, the University of Houston, the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University, as well as the University of Bergen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology and the University of Stavanger. Corporate partners are Statoil and Schlumberger, an oil services company based in Houston, Paris and The Hague.

Graue said the first field project will be to test using carbon dioxide to boost oil recovery on land in Texas, with the ultimate goal of using it on aging North Sea fields.

While the basic technique is well-established on land, Graue said the project will emphasize mobility control for enhanced recovery, moving work that has been done in the lab into the field.

The objective is to use carbon dioxide for enhanced oil recovery in the North Sea fields off the coast of Norway, but the first tests will be done in Texas to keep down costs. Graue said several potential sites have been chosen and negotiations with independent operators are underway.

He said field tests could begin in 2014, with the possibility of work offshore Norway beginning in 2018.