The next generation of petroleum engineers, geologists and geophysicists coming out of Texas A&M University will be even better prepared to find and develop oil and gas deposits, thanks to the creation of a new center that will facilitate current research and development and help address the energy challenges facing the nation.
Formation of the new center – the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems – was approved Friday (July 17) by The Texas A&M University System.
The new Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems will integrate the study of geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering at Texas A&M, giving students the interdisciplinary foundation they need to be successful in the petroleum industry. Additionally, it will provide the research focus and resources faculty need to develop integrated petroleum solutions.
The goal of the center is to link faculty researchers with scientists and engineers in the energy industry so that together they can educate a new generation of petroleum and sedimentary geologists, geophysicists and engineers who are capable of meeting the nation’s energy challenges by working on interdisciplinary teams to tackle real world problems.
“Without question, geology, geophysics and petroleum engineering have to work together if we’re going to solve the energy problems that face the world,” said Petroleum Engineering Department Head Steve Holditch.
“This center will serve as a focal point and provide a structure so that people in different departments and colleges can do integrated teaching and research,” added Geology & Geophysics Department Head Andreas Kronenberg.
The Berg-Hughes Center will be housed in the Department of Geology & Geophysics and will be supported by the colleges of Geosciences, Engineering and Science. Twenty-six faculty plan to participate in the center, including geologists, geophysicists, marine geologists and geophysicists, and petroleum engineers. They will provide innovative, multidisciplinary education and research opportunities for students in these disciplines.
Dr. Ernest A. Mancini, who is known nationally for his work in petroleum geosciences and is currently director of the Center for Sedimentary Basin Studies and a distinguished research professor of petroleum geology and stratigraphy at the University of Alabama, will be director of the Berg-Hughes Center.
The Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems is named for the late Dr. Robert R. Berg and for the Hughes family – Dan A. Hughes '51, Dudley Hughes '51, and Dan Allen Hughes '80.
Together, Dan, Dudley and Dan Allen Hughes have established a $1 million endowment for the naming of the center, and the Dan A. Hughes endowed chair is to be awarded to the center director.
Bob Berg’s career was dedicated to working with the oil and gas industry and bringing scientific excellence to all that he did. A faculty member of the Department of Geology and Geophysics from 1967 to 1995, Berg was highly respected and admired by his colleagues and by the generations of petroleum geoscientists and engineers who studied under him. He won many awards from both academic and professional societies for his contributions to geological principles and petroleum geoscience applications.
As independent oilmen, the Hughes family is recognized in the industry for its successes in oil exploration and recovery. Brothers Dan A. and Dudley J. Hughes are geologists who graduated from Texas A&M University in 1951. They used their A&M degrees to craft highly successful careers in exploration geology, eventually building their own companies. Dan Hughes is owner of the Dan A. Hughes Company in Beeville, Texas. Dudley Hughes is president of Hughes South Corporation in Jackson, Mississippi. Dan’s son Dan Allen graduated from the Mays Business School at A&M in 1980 and holds a degree in geology. He is president of the Dan A. Hughes Company.
A panel discussion that laid the groundwork for the center was held on campus May 14 with faculty and students from the departments of Geology & Geophysics, Oceanography and Petroleum Engineering.
Dan, Dudley and Dan Allen Hughes led the discussion along with three other former students who have built independent companies and successful careers in the oil and gas industry: Clayton Williams Jr. ’54, president, Clayton Williams Energy Inc. in Midland; Dan Pedrotti ’53, president and CEO of SueMaur Exploration Inc. in Corpus Christie, and Kellam Colquitt ’70, retired COO of Reef Exploration of Richardson.
These oil and gas industry leaders volunteered to meet with faculty and students to introduce plans for the center, share their industry perspective on why it was needed, and show their full support of the proposal.
The Berg-Hughes Center has been established and supported by existing and pledged endowments totaling $2.9 million. Contributing to this endowment to date are the Hughes family, Colquitt, Pedrotti, Carlos Dengo ’82, vice president of ExxonMobil Upstream Research Company; Tom Kelly ’53, owner, Tom Kelly Interests; Dustin Marshall ’75, vice president for U.S. Exploration, Hess Corporation; Doug McGehee ’81, Angola/Congo Exploration Manager, ExxonMobil Exploration Company; Thomas Ruffer ’81, Geoscience Manager, ESSO Exploration Angola, and R. Ken Williams ’45, oil and gas professional. Additional funding is expected from private companies, former students and other entities.
College of Geosciences Development Director Diane Barron said that this center makes sense for Texas A&M.
“It seems only appropriate that with our rich heritage – which is clearly evidenced in the name Berg-Hughes – Texas A&M University would create a center that aligns so clearly with the needs of industry and today’s energy challenges,” Barron said. “But it also takes great leadership and vision to make a proposal reality, and it is no surprise that the Berg-Hughes Center was the vision of Aggie geologist Ernie Mancini. His vision together with the tremendous support of Aggies in the oil and gas industry has allowed us to build a $2.9 million endowment before the center was even established.”
For more information on the Berg-Hughes Center for Petroleum and Sedimentary Systems contact Center Director Ernest Mancini at email@example.com . To learn more about providing financial support for the center contact College of Geosciences Development Director Diane Barron at firstname.lastname@example.org.