Funds Cutoff Spells PTTC Obituary
It’s often said nothing lasts forever -- which often might be a good thing.
Not necessarily so in the case of the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council’s (PTTC) funding status.
The high profile, 12-plus-year-old organization serves as a technology transfer medium for both new and old ideas that are successfully applied by oil and gas industry producers.
PTTC traditionally has been funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy, with the funds matched by the states, regional-lead organizations and industry contributions in the form of time and expertise, according to Don Duttlinger, PTTC executive director and AAPG member.
But the DOE has served notice to the PTTC: It will cut off its money supply to the organization at the end of this year.
In fact, the federal government is bidding farewell to the whole base DOE program, which includes:
- Advanced drilling and completions.
- Advanced diagnostics and imaging.
- Conventional oil and gas program.
- Enhanced oil recovery.
- Deeptrek program.
- Microhole technology program.
- National gas and oil technology partnership.
- Petroleum Technology Transfer Council.
- Stripper well consortium.
- University and intern program.
“It wipes out all conventional oil and gas research, just zeroes it out,” Duttlinger said. “That in itself is quite amazing.”
It’s especially amazing given that it’s coming at a time when congressional leaders and the public at large are being quite vocal about the need for “energy independence.” This desired-yet-elusive goal could take several giant steps backward without continued technology advances and the dissemination of technology how-to, such as PTTC provides.
“Through the years, DOE’s natural gas and oil research, development and demonstration program has effectively contributed toward technologies that have had a real impact on the rate of discovery and improving the extraction efficiencies of our U.S. domestic reserves,” said Gene Ames, PTTC’s chairman:
“These increases only come when new or under-applied technologies -- whether they come from government, academia or industry -- are taken off the shelf and put to good use,” he said.
“That’s where the outreach and connection made possible by our network come into play,” Ames noted. “There is no other organization that has a better understanding of the technology needs of independent producers, regardless of the region, basin or play they are in.”
It will be an uphill battle from here for PTTC, but the group is determined to move forward.
“It looks bleak for now,” Duttlinger said, “and we must make sure people realize this is real. The programs have been cut.
“We’re concerned people won’t realize what’s gone until it is gone,” Duttlinger added. “We’re taking the approach to see if industry values the technology transfer mission and will step up to fund and continue this program.
“We’ll be going to industry for money,” Duttlinger said, “and we’re testing the waters with a few small companies. We haven’t completely given up on federal funding, but if in any becomes available, it won’t be our foundation like in the past but more an auxiliary -- we are transitioning to a primarily industry-funded organization.”
No matter how much of the funding slack may be picked up by industry, a long-time functioning entity such as PTTC will be transformed -- perhaps into something even better.
Duttlinger, in fact, expressed the group’s commitment to efficiently delivering even more value than in the past, both on a regional and national scale.