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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 announced Feb. 10 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.

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