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Recent fossil fuel projects at TU Delft sponsored by oil & gas companies

Emma van Bergeijk (journalist at revealed that the Technical University Delft received money from fossil fuel industry for research into oil and gas in recent years.

Information provided in response to Emma’s freedom of information (FOI) request showed that Shell, Equinor and Wintershall Dea contracted the Civil Engineering and Geosciences faculty of TU Delft for oil & gas research (5 projects between 2018 and 2023). We provided input to the article on

Members of the Mapping Fossil Ties coalition from End Fossil LU/TUD agreed with TU Delft that the first “partial decision” of their FOI would be equivalent to the (independently submitted) FOI of We were therefore also able to see more detailed information on the projects in question (see also

  • Three projects are on tech for drilling, including methods such as waterflooding, hydraulic fracturing and surfactant-foam or low-tension-gas flooding, which aim to increase a well’s productivity.
  • Two projects are on modelling oil & gas reservoirs. One is in the North Sea, and “these models will ultimately lead to direct implementation by industry… (TRL2 to TRL4).” [1]

The other is in the Colsay formations, to be extracted in Equinor’s Rosebank project. Approved in 2023, academics & environmental groups have argued that it undermines UK climate commitments, and there are current legal challenges ongoing [2]. The UK government cite energy security to justify Rosebank [3], although the oil from the project will not be reserved for UK consumption but sold on the international market [4]. The UK’s independent Climate Change Committee, established under the Climate Change Act 2008, note that “Any increases in UK extraction of oil and gas would have, at most, a marginal effect on the prices faced by UK consumers in future.” [5]

  • Another project is about measuring methane leaks in the Permian basin, where Shell (the project sponsor) drills for gas. Shell promotes gas as a low-carbon fuel, and lobbies both for tighter controls on leaks [6] and for expansion of LNG after the invasion of Ukraine [7].

As a reminder: methane has a global warming potential several times that of carbon dioxide. Leaks in pipelines, during production and “slip” in turbines when being burned (e.g. on ships), mean that the use of natural gas (LNG) is not necessarily better for the environment than more carbon-intensive fuels such as coal [8-9].

Of the 40 projects from 2018 onward revealed in the FOI, at least:
– 7 were on CCUS
– 8 on wind
– 2 on hydrogen
– 4 on geothermal
– 2 on solar
– 6 on earthquakes caused by drilling (induced seismicity)

One project from NAM BV Assen has no description, only the name “Voortzetting Nam”, and the contribution is listed only as “more than €1,000,000”.