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Energy industry leaders commit $1.6M to UH petroleum program

HOUSTON, July 29, 2008 Two Fortune 500 oil companies have committed major funding to the Cullen College of Engineering at the University of Houston. The funds, from energy industry leaders Devon Energy Corp. and Marathon Oil Corp., will provide support for a new undergraduate program in petroleum engineering, which is expected to be approved by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board this fall.

"Marathon's and Devon's commendable and considerable generosity will benefit both the University of Houston and the public in general as we help prepare a new generation of energy industry leaders," said Renu Khator, president of UH and chancellor of the UH System.

Marathon (NYSE: MRO) has pledged $600,000 to the program over three years. Marathon's funds are unrestricted and will be used to address the most pressing needs of the new degree program as it develops. The company has been a donor to UH since 1989, with previous giving totaling nearly $400,000.

"We applaud the formation of the petroleum engineering program at the University of Houston's Cullen College of Engineering, and are proud to be the first company to step forward and pledge support," said Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., Marathon president and CEO. "The creation of this program at UH is significant at this important juncture, when global demand for energy is increasing so rapidly. Marathon is pleased to support the College of Engineering in their efforts to educate students who will one day play a critical role in developing energy that is so vital to the future of our country and the world."

Devon (NYSE: DVN) has committed $1 million to the program over three years. The funds will provide scholarships and textbooks for students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in the new petroleum engineering program, materials for faculty and other needs of the program. Devon's funds will also be used to renovate an existing laboratory and outfit it with the latest equipment to provide students hands-on experience. In recognition, the laboratory will be named the Devon Energy Petroleum Engineering Laboratory.

"We are looking forward to a strong partnership with the university as it moves forward with plans to prepare the next generation of petroleum engineers to overcome the vast challenges we face in the future," said Devon President John Richels, "We are certain the program will be a great resource for our operations in Houston as we continue to recruit young engineers to fill a growing number of positions within our company."

Devon, the largest U.S.-based independent oil and natural gas producer, is a pioneer in some of the most challenging oil and natural gas producing regions in the world, such as the Gulf of Mexico deepwater, the oil sands of Alberta and the Barnett Shale of north Texas. While the company's headquarters are in Oklahoma City, it has a major presence in Houston and Calgary. Devon has been a strong supporter of the University of Houston for many years.

"Support from companies such as Marathon and Devon underscores the need for a petroleum engineering undergraduate program in this region," said Joseph W. Tedesco, Elizabeth D. Rockwell Endowed Chair and dean of engineering. "We are grateful that both companies decided to support our program with their generous gifts, which in turn is an investment in the long-term stability of the regional workforce."

Both companies' support will bolster the petroleum engineering program, considered a cornerstone in the university's goal to become a leader in energy research and education. The University of Houston also leads the Lone Star Wind Alliance and is home to substantial research efforts in alternative fuels, energy conservation and energy systems integration.

The new Bachelor of Science degree in petroleum engineering is expected to help alleviate concerns about the energy sector's aging workforce. Energy education and degree programs across the country have experienced a steady decline in enrollments since the 1980s. And the Society of Petroleum Engineers has estimated that one-third of the energy workforce is over the age of 50.

When approved, the new bachelor's degree in petroleum engineering will include a revolutionary "modular" curriculum, allowing students to focus their degree in areas of specialization such as reservoir engineering or petroleum geology. The program will also require a set number of electives in areas like project management, economics and energy law.


Contact: Eric Gerber
University of Houston

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