News Ticker


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.

EERC Welcomes Kyle Peterson

Kyle Peterson is a Geologist at the EERC, where he works with a diverse team to support clients in assessing uncertainties in oil and gas development and geologic CO2 storage. Kyle develops geophysical models of subsurface reservoirs, which are subsequently used to predict dynamic reservoir performance during production and injection.

Having grown up on the eastern edge of the “Bakken boom,” Kyle was immersed in the oil and gas industry from an early age. He became interested in geology after taking physical and historical geology classes at Minot State University. After an internship as a wellsite geologist, he knew he wanted to couple his interest in geology with the energy industry.

Kyle will graduate with an M.S. degree in Geology from the University of North Dakota in August 2017. He holds a B.A. degree in Geology from Minot State University. Kyle’s principal areas of interest and expertise include core and well log analysis, geologic characterization of unconventional reservoirs, kerogen kinetics of source rocks, applied geostatistics, geocellular reservoir modeling, CO2 enhanced oil recovery, and geologic storage of CO2.

While pursuing his master’s degree, Kyle worked at the EERC as a graduate research assistant and intern, where he completed static geologic models and reported results for brine extraction and CO2 injection and storage projects.

“I really enjoy the vast array of tasks and projects that I have had the opportunity to assist with. I have had the opportunity to work with many good people with different backgrounds and roles. In doing so, I have experienced many different disciplines of subsurface research,” Kyle said.

Outside of work, Kyle enjoys hunting, shooting, fishing, golfing, camping, mountain biking, and zymology.

Energizing North Dakota's Future

The Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) hosted the 2nd Annual Partnership Summit on June 8. The event served as a forum for partners from multiple energy industry sectors to discuss critical topics. Attendees advanced their partnerships and worked on a collaborative action plan for environmentally responsible use of energy, contributing to an “all of the above” approach to energy production.

University of North Dakota (UND) men’s basketball coach Brian Jones kicked off the event with his message on appreciating winning through the experience of loss. UND President Mark Kennedy and North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness welcomed the attendees, who represented public utilities, private industry, government entities, and energy research experts.

Dr. Randall Gentry, Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), discussed the role of NETL in using domestic resources to power our nation’s homes, industries, businesses, and transportation economically, while protecting our environment and enhancing our energy independence. A multidisciplinary discussion panel focused on current challenges and highlighted the strength created through collaboration in North Dakota. Panelists included Nicole Kivisto, President and CEO of MDU Resources Group’s Utility Companies, Lynn Helms, Director of the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and Justin Kringstad, Director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority. Charles McConnell, Executive Director of the Rice Energy and Environment Initiative, moderated the panel.

“We have an opportunity to change and prepare for the future,” says EERC CEO Tom Erickson. “Venues like this foster collaboration on those opportunities.”

Keynote speaker Dr. Mark Pearson, CEO of Liberty Resources, LLC, identified the challenge and vision of getting the next increments of oil and gas out of the ground, emphasizing how new technology must continue to improve recovery from the Bakken.

Charles Gorecki, EERC Director of Subsurface Research and Development, and Brian Kalk, EERC Director of Energy Systems Development, outlined goals for North Dakota’s energy future. These goals include doubling or tripling the current oil production in the state, eliminating pipeline leaks, increasing oil recovery rates in existing wells, maximizing the use of North Dakota natural gas and energy export opportunities, and making the best use of synergies between the agriculture and energy industries. Specific ideas discussed were using nanotechnology in pipelines to detect potential leaks and the feasibility of using carbon dioxide captured from energy production in greenhouses to grow produce year-round in North Dakota.

“From the opening comments to our luncheon keynote, the theme of change was prevalent—the change that has occurred and the change necessary for all of us to capitalize on the incredible opportunities ahead,” said Erickson.

EERC Research Takes International Stage

Two Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) staff members recently attended the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF) Mid-Year Meeting in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The CSLF works with 26 member governments across six continents to address key technical, economic, and environmental obstacles in the development and deployment of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. CCS technology can capture carbon dioxide emissions produced from the use of fossil fuels in electricity generation and industrial processes, and deposit them in an underground geologic formation, preventing emissions from entering the atmosphere.

John Harju, Vice President for Strategic Partnerships, participated on a panel of experts from across the globe entitled Carbon Utilization Challenges and Opportunities. He discussed enhanced oil recovery in unconventional shale plays, such as those found in the Bakken Formation in North Dakota. The EERC leads a number of major carbon capture, utilization, and storage programs, including the Plains CO2 Reduction Partnership and the Partnership for CO2 Capture.

EERC Principal Engineer John Hamling presented an update on the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory’s Brine Extraction and Storage Test projects. Two of these field projects are in the United States—one in Florida and one in North Dakota. The North Dakota location is led by the EERC and involves field-testing brine extraction as a means of improving storage potential of a geologic formation.

“Despite the significantly different environment in North Dakota compared to the Middle East, there are a lot of synergies in energy research being conducted between these locations,” says Hamling. “The research being conducted at the EERC in areas such as CO2 capture and utilization, water treatment, and enhanced oil recovery has global impact.”