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UCalgary and Mexico work together for a secure and sustainable energy future

Formal funding announcement emphasizes shared commitment

From left: Julia Tagüeña Parga, CONACYT; Salvador Alva, ITESM; Pedro JoaquÍn Coldwell, SENER; Elizabeth Cannon; Leonardo Beltrán, SENER; and Dr. Ernesto Ríos Patrón, IMP, participate in the formal announcement of funding for knowledge networks.

In our interconnected world, borders, cultures and languages are no longer the barriers they may have been in the past. As we work to solve big issues that face our society, knowledge and expertise can flow between countries and organizations to collaborate and find real solutions.

The Global Research Initiative in Unconventional Hydrocarbon Resources (GRI) at the University of Calgary is a major vehicle to assist with knowledge flow, by translating technology innovations into field-ready solutions. Focused on collaborative research between the university and international partners, the GRI creates a network of global hubs for discovery, creativity and innovation in unconventional hydrocarbon resources research.

Recent funding of $646 million pesos (C$46 million per April 12, 2017 exchange rate) from the Mexican Ministry of Energy’s (SENER) Hydrocarbon Fund supports knowledge networks or cells that include joint research projects to aid energy reforms in Mexico, through the GRI. The funding follows from a long-term collaborative partnership the university signed in December 2015 with SENER and will be administered by the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y TecnologÍa (CONACYT). In addition, UCalgary and its partners are providing over 30 per cent in concurrent funding, bringing the total value of these knowledge networks to more than MXN $840 million.

“We know that our partner institutions in Mexico share a similar vision of a secure energy future — one where we have developed the full potential of both our energy resources and our people. Through research partnerships like these, we can all benefit by increasing energy security, building training and educational programs, and fostering economic growth,” says President and Vice-Chancellor Elizabeth Cannon.

The research of the knowledge cells focuses on four key areas of development: heavy and extra-heavy oil, mature and unconventional oil fields, zero loss in Mexican pipelines, and industry and labour market development.

On April 3, President Elizabeth Cannon and Provost Dru Marshall were in Mexico City for the formal announcement of the funding, along with leaders from Mexican partner institutions Instituto Mexicano de Petróleos (IMP) and the Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (Tec de Monterrey), as well as CONACYT. The visit included planning of the next steps in the development of the knowledge cells, to begin the important research work that will take place over the next several years.

“This funding is the result of many years of work and big thinking from a number of organizations. The University of Calgary has a long-standing connection with Mexico, with 18 active agreements with 14 institutions,” says Marshall. “These knowledge cells will develop strong learning and research opportunities, positively impacting our collective energy sectors in the future.”

“This partnership greatly supports our international strategy objectives and pursuit to become a global intellectual hub. Mexico is a country of emphasis for us, a greatly valued partner with whom we share a common focus on energy, science and capacity building,” says Janaka Ruwanpura, vice-provost (international).

Speakers included Secretary of Energy Pedro Joaquín Coldwell, President Elizabeth Cannon, Dr. Ernesto Rios Patron (General Director, IMP), Salvador Alva (President, Tec de Monterrey), Leonardo Beltrán (Under-secretary of Energy, SecretarÍa de EnergÍa de México), and Julia Tagüeña Parga (CONACYT), and was guided by Consul Cecilia Villanueva (Consulate of Mexico in Calgary). Over 150 people attended the announcement, demonstrating the importance of the funding for all organizations involved. 

Find out more information about the Global Research Initiative or the University of Calgary's International Strategy.