BP Exploration (Alaska) Inc. will donate $1 million to the University of Alaska Anchorage to establish the BP Asset Integrity and Corrosion Lab, scheduled to open in fall 2012.
The lab, the first of its kind in Alaska, will enable the UAA mechanical engineering program to expand its corrosion engineering curriculum and offer critical hands-on experience and marketable skills to Alaska’s next generation of engineers, officials said.
|Research at the BP Asset Integrity and Corrosion Lab will benefit aging North Slope infrastructure like the Milne Point Pipelines, one of four North Slope pipeline networks operated by BP Exploration (Alaska).|
“Not only will this generous gift from BP expand UAA’s areas of academic excellence in the School of Engineering,” said UAA Chancellor Tom Case. “It will create a stream of well-trained corrosion engineers who are knowledgeable about Alaska’s energy and environmental issues.”
“As the North Slope infrastructure enters its fourth decade, the need for homegrown engineers with corrosion experience has never been higher,” the university said.
Indeed, in May, BP Exploration (Alaska) was fined $25 million and ordered to carry out a system-wide pipeline integrity management program as part of a settlement for spilling more than 5,000 barrels of crude oil on the North Slope in 2006.
Federal officials blamed the spill on inadequate pipeline maintenance and inspection. The new integrity management program is expected to cost BP $60 million over three years, in addition to the $200 million it spent to replace the leaking lines.
In addition to the state’s primary industries of oil and gas, the lab is also expected to benefit aviation, military, shipping, fisheries, water/wastewater utilities and other industries. The lab’s fuel cell and deep-cycle battery testing and research will also expand the renewable-energy capabilities for rural Alaskan villages, officials said.
CO2 Corrosion Experiments
The lab’s capabilities will include CO2 corrosion experiments, said UAA mechanical engineering assistant professor Matt Cullin.
“This is especially important, since CO2 corrosion is a very serious concern on Alaska’s North Slope,” says Cullin. “We’ll be able to measure corrosion rates and test inhibitor effectiveness right here in Alaska, which has had to be done largely outside, until now.”
The quick turnaround of these experiments will result in more efficient management of Alaska’s energy infrastructure, Cullin added.
Additional capabilities include chemical analysis of liquid and metal samples, ground/wastewater samples and liquid fuels derived from biomass, and the ability to perform fundamental electrochemical experiments.
Research and Training Opportunities
The new lab and expanded corrosion engineering program will create advanced training opportunities for engineering students at UAA.
The facility will host faculty and graduate research, as well as independently commissioned research that will provide “a sustainable stream of income,” the university said. The corrosion lab will be one of few nationwide that will enable undergraduates to conduct research.
“This is an important investment—one that will train qualified Alaskan engineers to fill positions in our industry and others, while also creating a sustainable training, testing and research facility for the university,” said BP Exploration (Alaska) President John Mingé.
“In the past decade, BP has donated $28 million, both cash and in-kind, to the University of Alaska. BP remains committed to workforce development and Alaska hire.”
For more information about the BP Asset and Integrity Lab, contact Matt Cullin at (907) 786-1038 or firstname.lastname@example.org.