Mines News

Release Date Monday, January 30, 2017

DOE’s Dan Soeder Announced as First Energy Resources Initiative Director

Dan Soeder, third from left in the second row, will join the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology as the inaugural director of the Energy Resources Initiative. He is pictured in this photograph with SD Mines students and faculty members on an oil and gas development site last summer.

RAPID CITY, S.D. (Jan. 30, 2017) – Daniel J. Soeder has been hired as the inaugural Energy Resources Initiative director, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology announced today. He will join SD Mines at the end of April after departing from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

A research scientist, hydrologist and geologist, Soeder has been a researcher and technical project coordinator with the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, W.V. since 2009, where his focus was on shale gas, tight oil, and geological sequestration of carbon dioxide.

He previously worked as a hydrologist for the United States Geological Survey at its Maryland-Delaware-Washington, D.C., Water Science Center and at the Yucca Mountain Project branch in Nevada. Prior to joining the USGS, he investigated unconventional gas resources at the Gas Technology Institute in Chicago.

SD Mines announced plans for its Energy Resources Initiative (ERI) in 2014, when a Petroleum Systems minor was approved by the South Dakota Board of Regents. Fundraising efforts have since resulted in over $3 million from industry and alumni supporters.

“Dan is a great fit to lead our Energy Resources Initiative,” said SD Mines President Heather Wilson. “Mines is committed to working with industry in the region to prepare graduates and also to advance knowledge about energy production.”

The Energy Resources Initiative builds upon the university’s existing faculty research expertise in enhanced recovery of hydrocarbons from fine-grained reservoirs, water resources and materials development. The state of South Dakota previously funded the university’s Shale Research Initiative, another element of the energy effort, in which faculty and students collaborated with RESPEC. Researchers investigated the geomechanical and hydrological properties, mineralogy and composition of various shale units to further the scientific and engineering applications of shale and other fine-grained rocks.

Mines is centrally located in an energy-rich area of the country within 300 miles of the highly oil and gas productive Williston, Denver and Powder River basins, and in recent years nearly 20 percent of Mines graduates have gone to work in the oil and gas industry.

“Oil and gas production is essentially an empirical activity, where successful operators know what works, but they often don’t know why it works,” Soeder said. “For example, oil production from the Bakken Shale is better in some areas than others. Operators know where the line is between marginal and good production but may not know why the line is there. The role of scientific and engineering research at an institution like Mines is to investigate the underlying principles to better understand the problem. If we learn how production works on the Bakken, that knowledge can be applied to other resources.

“Many of the midsize companies operating in Rocky Mountain basins cannot support a research staff to study such issues, and ERI staff will meet with them to learn their needs and develop relevant scientific research,” he said.

Students will participate with faculty members in hands-on projects to solve some of these real-world problems. This experience is expected to provide students with the opportunity to better understand the practical, day-to-day issues faced by industry, and thus make them more marketable as job candidates.

Soeder said Mines will apply a broad range of monitoring technology to better understand how drilling and production activities may impact the environment, and investigate ways to improve recovery efficiencies for oil and gas. “Higher efficiency means lower costs for operators, less wasted resources, and lower impacts to the environment,” he said.

An additional focus will be to increase communication on energy-related topics within and across departments on campus as well as with the greater scientific community and the public.

Click to find out more about the SD Mines Energy Resources Initiative.

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About SD Mines

Founded in 1885, the South Dakota School of Mines & Technology is a science and engineering research university located in Rapid City, S.D., offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. The university enrolls 2,859 students with a student-to-faculty ratio of 15:1. The SD School of Mines placement rate is 98 percent, with an average starting salary of $63,500. Find us online at www.sdsmt.edu and on Facebook and Twitter.

Contact: Fran LeFort, (605) 394-6082, Fran.LeFort@sdsmt.edu

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