It might power the cars and cool the campus, but oil and A&M have a deeper relationship, according to A&M professors at a panel Thursday night at the George Bush Library.
The oil industry has helped A&M receive one of the highest university endowments in the nation. Oil wells have boosted the amount available for universities through Texas’s Permanent University Fund from $337 million in 2010, to $1.1 billion in 2014, said Dr. Carlos Dengo, director of the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems.
“A&M is the university it is because of the oil industry,” Dengo said. “The oil industry has achieved what it has today in large part due to the leadership of many A&M graduates that have gone on to shape our industry.”
The panel focused on the accomplishments of Aggie alumni and work by current students and faculty on land and sea, as well as engineering advances allowing the U.S. to become the largest natural gas producer in the world said Dr. Akhil Datta-Gupta, chair of the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering.
“If you look at Texas oil production over the last five to seven years, our oil production has tripled. We haven’t seen this rate of oil growth since the early years of the 20th century,” he said. “We are at a historic time.”
Rounding out the panel was Dr. Brad Clement, director of science services at the International Ocean Discovery Program, which uses a drilling vessel as a lab and classroom for a team of scientists from around the world.
About 75 people attended and asked several questions on the industry, including a concern on the drinking water wells used for fracking and the non-drinkable water they turned out.
“It is a huge concern, especially given the water situation in Texas,” Datta-Gupta said. “The industry is working, we are working, to find a solution.”