Our industry lives on creativity and innovation. The tools and capabilities we need require rapid progression through the inventive process. That process is often assisted by borrowing from "the other guy's toolbox".

Since 2007, ExxonMobil has co-sponsored (along with the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center and the University of Houston) an initiative that brings together Houston's O&G and medical communities to explore topics of common interest and possibilities for technical collaboration. Its title, "Pumps and "Pipes", recognizes that heart and vascular surgeons have much in common with oil & gas engineers in that we are all in the "flow assurance business." We all work through long, thin tubes, depend on imaging and navigation, and place a high priority on keeping our conduits clean and intact. We are also interested in many of the same emerging technologies, including robotics and nano-materials.

This paper describes ExxonMobil's experience with Pumps & Pipes collaboration and illustrates how cross disciplinary collaboration can be translated into business results. Several examples of successful innovation are described, including a new mitral valve simulator (O&G assisting medical researchers) and methods to detect and mitigate microbial induced pipeline corrosion (medical researchers assisting O&G engineers). Collaborations emerging from the first international Pumps & Pipes conference (in this year's WPC host city of Doha, Qatar) are also presented. This event is hosted by the Qatar Science and Technology Park with significant participation from Doha's Hamad Medical Center.


As any homeowner or driveway mechanic knows, the best way to acquire a tool not owned is to borrow it from one's neighbor. That is certainly the case in the world of technology and ideas. The image of neighbors talking over the fence is the concept that drives Pumps & Pipes. The neighborhood is where pumps and pipes matter most - the physical health of people and economic health of societies. The neighbors are those who tend the pumps and pipes - the professionals of medicine and energy.

The impetus for a collaborative initiative began in 2007 with the type of random airplane conversation that so often fosters creative beginnings. The seatmates were Alan Lumsden, Medical Director of Houston's Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Center, and a drilling engineer with ExxonMobil's Sakhalin 1 project in Russia. By the end of the flight they agreed that the cardiovascular and oil and gas worlds do have much in common, and that underneath the specialized terminology "it's all pumps and pipes". They further agreed that ExxonMobil and the DeBakey Center should create a forum in which the conversation could continue. A third founding sponsor, the University of Houston, was recruited, and a striking logo (Figure 1) was created. For the past four years, Pumps & Pipes has been stimulating discussion, sparking ideas, and exploring synergies.

This content is only available via PDF.
You can access this article if you purchase or spend a download.