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Senator Hoeven Receives Energy Champion Award

Senator John Hoeven and EERC CEO Tom Erickson
The University of North Dakota Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) presented its Energy Champion Award to the Honorable John Hoeven, U.S. Senator from North Dakota, on August 21, 2017. The presentation and a reception were held at the EERC on August 21 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.  

Senator Hoeven’s leadership, vision, and commitment to the state of North Dakota and to its energy industry throughout his career have kept North Dakota at the forefront of energy development nationwide. He was instrumental in the state being granted regulatory authority over carbon dioxide wells, known as Class VI wells, which will help advance carbon capture and sequestration technology.

"Senator Hoeven has been a true champion of energy development in North Dakota," said Tom Erickson, EERC CEO. "This award is in recognition for his tireless dedication at the state and national level for advancing all forms of energy."

"Through its work to help produce more energy with greater efficiency, the EERC is helping to advance the long-term energy security of our nation," Hoeven said. "The EERC continues to develop important initiatives like carbon capture and storage technology which will help North Dakota's energy industry produce affordable, reliable energy for many years to come. I am grateful to work with the EERC to support energy development in North Dakota and throughout our nation, and I am honored to receive this award." 

The Energy Champion Award was created in 1986 to honor individuals who have demonstrated extraordinary personal commitment to energy and environmental research and development. Senator Hoeven is the tenth recipient of the award. Past recipients are Michael Jones, Senator Byron Dorgan, Thomas Bechtel, Everett Sondreal, Thomas Clifford, Senator Kent Conrad, John McFarlane, Conrad Aas, and Senator Mark Andrews. 

Photos from the event are available here:

Left to right: Lignite Energy Council President and CEO Jason Bohrer, North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness, EERC Vice President for Strategic Partnerships John Harju, Senator Hoeven, UND President Mark Kennedy, and EERC CEO Tom Erickson. 

EPA Administrator Pruitt visits EERC

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, U.S. Senator John Hoeven, North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, and EERC CEO Tom Erickson. Photo by Kari Suedel.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, Scott Pruitt, stopped at the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) on August 9. EERC leadership staff provided a brief tour of the facility. The group discussed the carbon capture work occurring at the EERC and the need for driving down the cost of carbon capture technology. They also discussed the state-of-the-art equipment and analysis in the Natural Materials Analytical Research Laboratory at the EERC and how this fundamental scientific work is unlocking the potential in the Bakken formation.

Mr. Pruitt's visit included a roundtable discussion, where he heard remarks from North Dakota energy and environment leaders, as well as lawmakers. Governor Doug Burgum, U.S. Senator John Hoeven, and U.S. Congressman Kevin Cramer were also in attendance. Mr. Pruitt's visit to North Dakota was coordinated through the Office of the Governor as part of the Environmental Protection Agency's State Action Tour. 

Photos from the event are available on the EERC's Flickr site:

New Resource: North Dakota's Energy Future

North Dakota has a strong team of industry partners, state organizations, and universities dedicated to a more prosperous, cleaner, and brighter energy future. We are working with regional partners to advance technology to support an all-of-the-above approach to energy production, developing more synergies between energy and agriculture and a stronger, value-added approach to resources. Our new resource, "North Dakota's Energy Future," details seven goals developed as an outcome of our 2nd Annual Partnership Summit, which was held in June.

Download and print your own copy of "North Dakota's Energy Future" or contact EERC Communications Director Nikki Massmann for a digital copy.

Nikki Massmann, 701.777.5428,  

EERC Reports Third Consecutive Year of Financial Growth

GRAND FORKS, N.D. – The University of North Dakota (UND) Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) announced financial growth for the third consecutive year for fiscal year 2017, which ended June 30. Total contracts awarded to the EERC were over $41 million, a significant increase over the two previous fiscal years’ contract funding of $36.5 million and $28.4 million respectively. Annual awards have grown nearly 70% in the last three years, from $24.5 million in fiscal year 2014.

The EERC is a worldwide leader in the development of solutions to energy and environmental challenges. EERC contract funding comes from a variety of public and private organizations across the globe. To date, the EERC has worked with approximately 1,300 clients from over 50 countries. 

“This is the third year in a row that we have seen significant financial progress,” said EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Our success is due to the incredible, hardworking people at the EERC and our clients who recognize the tremendous benefits of working with the EERC to advance technologies critical to our society.”

The EERC utilizes a focused approach on developing programs and client relationships to solve the world’s most pressing energy and environmental needs, attracting significant federal, state, and industry clients. Recently, the EERC outlined the incredible growth opportunity that exists in North Dakota to bring together the synergies of coal, oil and gas, renewable and agricultural industries, resulting in significant opportunity for the state.

Erickson concluded, “I would like to acknowledge the tremendous effort by our staff this year for their work on our existing core programs, building exciting new initiatives and strengthening our presence in the state’s energy sector.”


Nikki Massmann, Director of Communications

EERC Welcomes Brock Callina

Brock Callina EERCThe EERC is pleased to introduce our new Budget Analyst, Brock Callina. Brock supports clients, researchers, project managers, and senior management in the areas of cost management, personnel planning, cost projections, developing detailed cost proposals, and managing and overseeing multiple project budgets.

"I am excited to have the opportunity to work with such a wide array of people and projects on a regular basis." Brock noted, "and, as a 'money guy,' I like that I am able to see the different ways money flows from the beginning to the end of a project."

Brock holds a Bachelor of Business and Public Administration degree with a concentration in Investments from the University of North Dakota. Most recently, he worked as a Credit Analyst and Small Business Lender for Citizens Community Credit Union in Grand Forks. Prior to that, he worked as a Personal Banker and Business Advocate for Wells Fargo in Grand Forks.

Brock was born in California and moved as a child to Surrey, North Dakota, as his parents were military. He lived in Surrey until he started college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks. Brock and his wife have two children, a boy who is 4 and a girl who is almost 2. Outside of work, Brock enjoys woodworking and spending time with his family.

Introducing Dr. Phillip Levine

Phillip Levine EERCDr. Phillip Levine is a Geomodeler at the EERC, where he works with our clients to provide state of the art geophysical models of the subsurface. He integrates a variety of data from different disciplines, including petrophysics, geophysics, geology, and engineering to create 3-D models. These models are used for dynamic simulation to predict the behavior of the rocks under different scenarios.

"As exploration and development involve increasingly complex reservoirs, energy producers are relying more on geomodeling technology to simulate a reservoir before drilling a well to gain a better understanding of the heterogeneity within the reservoir," Phil said. "Geocellular models will continue to be a critical component of energy production as well as carbon storage."

Phil holds a Ph.D. degree in Geology from the University of South Carolina, Columbia; an M.S. degree in Geology from Syracuse University; and a B.S. degree in Biology-Geology from the University of Rochester. Phil previously worked as a software developer of geological and geophysical applications for most of his career.

"I started programming before there was such a thing as computer science, and there weren't a lot of geological and geophysical programs available to the industry. I have been involved with every aspect of the software life cycle, from specification through implementation and development, to technical marketing and sales, training, maintenance, and support," said Phil. "Later I took advantage of my geological training and became a geocellular modeler. I have been working as a modeler building 3-D geological interpretations for the last 12 years."

The opportunity to work as a modeler and conduct research at the University of North Dakota was one of the main attractions of Phil's new position at the EERC. He also finds the variety of EERC projects, including CO2 sequestration, to be challenging as well.

Interestingly, Phil credits undersea adventurer Jacque Cousteau for inspiring his career in energy. A biology major with an interest in marine life, Phillip was enticed by pictures of white sand beaches and palm trees on St. Croix and a presentation by students returning from the West Indies Laboratory there. He had to take several geology classes to get into the program and eventually spent a semester at the West Indies Lab. He had a great time at the lab, learned how his education could be applied to science and research, and started pursuing a Biology-Geology major to gain the necessary background for a student newly interested in carbonate environments.

Phil has a son who works as a stockbroker in Austin, Texas, and a daughter studying Musical Theater at Nebraska Wesleyan University. Although his family was his main focus when his kids were growing up, Phil said he has always managed to jog and ride his bicycle. 

Australian Counsul-General visits EERC

Australian Counsul-General Michael Wood visited the Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) and the Collaborative Energy Complex (CEC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) to discuss research, collaboration, and comparisons between North Dakota and Australia when it comes to energy resources and production.

UND President Mark Kennedy welcomed Mr. Wood and Australian Consulate staff member Holly Jenkins at the CEC on campus. The group discussed exchange student programs and research opportunities in engineering at UND. College of Engineering and Mines Dean Hesham El-Rewini provided a tour of the simulation labs, and students demonstrated the practical skills and knowledge obtained through studying in that setting.

The visit concluded with a tour of the EERC, led by CEO Tom Erickson. The tour involved EERC staff explaining shale oil and discussed its production in the Bakken Formation in western North Dakota. The group talked about future collaboration on research and technologies to mitigate environmental impacts from energy use. EERC staff shared their experiences and knowledge in using fly ash from coal to strengthen concrete and the potential for finding rare-earth elements in North Dakota. Rare-earth elements are used in high-tech electronics like smart phones.

"We have had a long-standing relationship with Australian entities in advancing lignite and brown coals," said Erickson. "We look forward to the opportunity to expand Australian relationships into oil and gas production."

Mr. Wood's visit to the EERC was part of several stops made throughout North Dakota to discuss energy. The mission of the Australian Government is to strengthen the bond between Australia and the United States through advancing interests in trade and investment, politics, cultural exchange, and academia. As the Australian Counsul-General located in Chicago, Mr. Wood is responsible for carrying out the mission of the office in the Midwestern states.

Left to right: EERC CEO Tom Erickson, Consulate office staff member Holly Jenkins, UND President Mark Kennedy, Australian Counsul-General Michael Wood, EERC Communication Director Nikki Massmann, Institute for Energy Studies Executive Director Michael Mann, College of Engineering and Mines Dean Hesham El-Rewini, and International Center Director Katie Davidson.