Gov. Mead travels to Dubai to promote fracking research by Mohammad Piri

Zayed Road in Dubai. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead recently traveled to Dubai to promote University of Wyoming professor Dr. Mohammad Piri’s research into unconventional oil production. (Wikimedia Commons/Saudi from Saudi Arabia)
Zayed Road in Dubai. Wyoming Governor Matt Mead recently traveled to Dubai to promote University of Wyoming professor Dr. Mohammad Piri’s research into unconventional oil production. (Wikimedia Commons/Saudi from Saudi Arabia)
By Gregory Nickerson
— April 16, 2013

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead recently returned from a trip to Dubai where he worked to boost trade and promote the work of Dr. Mohammad Piri, a professor of engineering at the University of Wyoming.

During the trip Mead met with representatives of the oil company Saudi Aramco in hopes of building a research partnership with the University of Wyoming. He also met with officials from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, a Muslim university located in Dahran, Saudi Arabia.

“The work being done at the University of Wyoming by many folks, but in particular led by Mohammad Piri, is cutting edge, and as a result has gained global interest,” Mead said. (Dr. Piri’s website has photos of many executives and politicians visiting his lab.)

Dr. Piri researches the flow of liquids and gasses through rocks. Specifically, he uses a CT scanner and x-rays to analyze core samples of rocks and visualize the pore space within. That information can help increase the effectiveness of fracking on tight rock formations.

Saudi Aramco is the world’s largest exporter of oil. As Saudi Arabia’s reserves of conventional oil decrease, the company has joined the global effort to recover more petroleum through fracking.

Should Saudi Aramco decide to support Piri’s research, it would follow other companies like Hess and EnCana that have donated to the professor’s lab in hopes of improving the science behind unconventional oil recovery.

Gov. Mead’s trip to the Middle East was funded by non-state dollars, according to a press release.

The trip to Dubai comes after a series of energy industry donations obtained by the University of Wyoming Foundation, which is led by Ben Blalock. The industry gifts combined with legislative appropriations will provide over $110 million to rebuild the College of Engineering at the University of Wyoming. The project is the largest in university history.

WyoFile previously reported on state funding for the College of Engineering and Dr. Piri’s work in the feature Legislature, industry invest $115 million in UW engineering.

An audio clip of Gov. Mead explaining the trip is available here.

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com.

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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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