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Report of the General Board on the establishment of a BP Professorship of Petroleum Science and related matters

The GENERAL BOARD beg leave to report to the University as follows:

1. Ideas of continuum and fluid dynamics have long been major topics of interest to several Departments in the University. The equations governing the behaviour of a single-phase fluid have been known since the middle of the nineteenth century, when they were obtained by Sir George Stokes in Cambridge, and a great deal is now known about the solutions of the Navier-Stokes equation. Different aspects of this subject are taught in most of the Departments that make up the Schools of the Physical Sciences and Technology, in which fluid dynamics is of central importance in many areas of interest. However, many important problems involve more than one fluid phase. Such situations are common in chemical and petroleum engineering, when two or more phases (oil, water, gas) travel together in the same pipe. They also arise in igneous and metamorphic petrology, and in basins where oil, gas, and water are removed from a reservoir. Historically, work in different Departments on multiphase flow has involved little inter-Departmental collaboration, although the fluid dynamics governing the behaviour of such fluids is common to all such problems.

2. Within the University, members of the Departments of Earth Sciences, Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Engineering have been concerned for some time to create an interdisciplinary focus for the study of several aspects of multiphase flow in rocks and pipes. British Petroleum plc (BP) have now offered the University £1.31m a year for fifteen years, together with a capital grant of £2m for accommodation and equipment, to support the formation of an interdisciplinary research institute involving collaboration with these five Departments. This funding will provide, in due course, an endowment for a Professorship and four University Lectureships, together with secretarial and technical support for the Institute and associated direct and indirect costs.

3. BP have recognized the need for fundamental research in multiphase flow, and one important purpose of the proposed Institute is to form a focus for this basic research. At present there is no single interdisciplinary organization in any university which is centrally concerned with the fundamental concepts of multiphase flow. It is also proposed that a programme of scientific interchange should be established between BP and the Departments, going significantly beyond existing contacts between the company and individual research groups. For example, such a programme might entail further collaborative projects, interchange of staff at many levels, invitations to BP personnel to contribute to the teaching programmes of the participating Departments, and student placements with the company. It is intended that the Institute should not be formally established as a separate University institution but that it should have an informal status, and should be attached to the Department of Earth Sciences.

4. The holder of the proposed Professorship, which would be assigned to the Department of Earth Sciences, would take a leading role in developing teaching and research in petroleum science in the Institute and the collaborating Departments. The four University Lectureships would be assigned to appropriate institutions determined by the field of research appropriate to the coherent functioning of the Institute, as recommended by a Board of Managers.

5. The General Board consider that the most appropriate arrangement for administering the funds would be to establish a trust fund, the first charge on which would be the full cost of the Professorship and of other offices and posts associated with the Institute. Initially it will be necessary to spend both income and capital of the fund, but in due course it is intended that the annual payments should form an endowment that will be sufficient to support these posts on a permanent basis. The General Board will invite BP to suggest the names of two persons for appointment as Managers of the Fund.

6. In recognition of this most generous benefaction, the General Board now propose that a Professorship should be established in the University, to be named the BP Professorship of Petroleum Science. The Faculty Board of Earth Sciences and Geography have determined, with the concurrence of the General Board, that elections to the Professorship should be made by an ad hoc Board of Electors; the General Board have also agreed that on the occasion of each election to the Professorship they will invite BP to suggest the name of one person for inclusion among the General Board's three nominations to the Board of Electors.

7. The General Board recommend:

 I. That the generous offer of a benefaction from British Petroleum plc for the support of a Research Institute in Petroleum Science be gratefully accepted.

 II. That a BP Professorship of Petroleum Science be established from 1 January 1999, placed in Schedule B of the Statutes, and assigned to the Department of Earth Sciences.

 III. That regulations for a BP Institute Fund, as set out in the Schedule to this Report, be approved.

22 July 1998



1. The sums received from British Petroleum plc for the support of work in Petroleum Science shall form a fund called the BP Institute Fund.

2. The Fund shall be under the control of a Board of Managers who shall be:

(a) three persons appointed by the General Board, two of whom shall be appointed on the nomination of British Petroleum plc;
(b) the Heads of the Departments of Earth Sciences, of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, of Chemistry, of Engineering, and of Chemical Engineering, or their representatives;
(c) the BP Professor of Petroleum Science;
(d) one person appointed by the Council of the School of the Physical Sciences and one by the Council of the School of Technology;
(e) not more than three persons co-opted at the discretion of the Managers.

Members of the Board of Managers in classes (a) and (d) shall be appointed in the Michaelmas Term to serve for four years from 1 January following their appointment. Members in class (e) shall serve until 31 December of the year in which they are co-opted or of the following year, as the Managers shall determine at the time of their co-optation.

3. The General Board shall appoint one of the Managers in class (a) to be Chairman. The Managers shall elect one of their number to act as Secretary.

4. The Managers shall be responsible for the administration of the Fund in support of teaching and research in Petroleum Science, for guiding the work of the Institute, and for encouraging collaboration with cognate Departments in the area of Petroleum Science.

5. The first charge on the Fund shall be the stipend, national insurance, pension contributions, and associated indirect costs payable by the University in respect of the BP Professor of Petroleum Science, and of the holders of such other University offices and posts as may be established from time to time by the University or the General Board as a charge on the Fund.

6. After provision has been made in accordance with Regulation 5, the capital and the income of the Fund shall be applied at the discretion of the Managers for the support of work in Petroleum Science in the Institute.

7. Any unexpended income of the Fund in a financial year may be either added to the capital of the Fund or accumulated for use as income in future years, as the Managers may determine.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 29 July 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.