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In conversation with Ranjith (Ran) Narayanasamy MEng’05 and MBA’11

By University Advancement and Communications Posted: May 26, 2022 11:00 a.m.

Ran obtained both his MEng and his MBA at the U of R on his journey to becoming President and CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC)
Ran obtained both his MEng and his MBA at the U of R on his journey to becoming President and CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC) Photo: PTRC

In February, Ranjith (Ran) Narayanasamy (MEng’05 and MBA’11) was appointed President and CEO of the Petroleum Technology Research Centre (PTRC). Ever since Narayanasamy moved to Regina from India to attend the University of Regina, he has accomplished a great deal in the energy sector. Among his many accomplishments include being a member of the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Saskatchewan (APEGS) and a winner of the Premier’s Award for Public Service Excellence. While working for SaskPower, he promoted its carbon capture and storage efforts internationally and created an Indigenous Procurement strategy which resulted in over $350 million in new Indigenous economic development. Now, he’s ready for his next challenge.

Why did you choose to attend the U of R for both your Masters and your MBA?

I was born and brought up in India. When I was planning to do my graduate program in Canada, one of my friends referred me to U of R and mentioned it is as a great university with an excellent engineering program. Dr. Stephen O’Leary, Professor at that time in the Engineering Faculty, contacted me via phone and mentioned the U of R program – I was really impressed with his humility and willingness to give me the benefit of doubt.

For my MBA, the EMBA program at U of R was a perfect fit because my employer at the time, SaskPower, sponsored my MBA and I could stay here in Regina to complete it.  The business program at U of R is one of the top-notch programs in Canada and it made sense with my work schedule, and career aspirations, to go through the program here.  It was a perfect fit.

How has what you learned at the U of R been valuable to your career?

Without my education from the U of R, I wouldn’t be who am today.  The program increased my confidence and skills.  A big credit goes to U of R for my career progression and my ability to build a great life in Saskatchewan and in Canada.

What are you most proud of from your experience at the U of R?

The U of R helped to transform me into a confident professional, and helped me to integrate into Canadian work culture with ease. People and communications skills are key to getting anywhere in this world, and my degrees at U of R helped me to improve those skills. Not just the professors, but the student life as well.  It was a great experience.

What was your favourite class and why?

As an Engineer by trade, I really enjoyed my finance class in my MBA program, although it was hard for me initially.  It was a steep learning curve.  The class really helped me to understand how important financial well-being is for running an organization of any size. You can have all the technical and scientific skills in the world, but if you are building a business you need to understand finance and how economics work.

What do you know now that you wish you knew back when you were attending university?

Entrepreneurship and new startups mantras – entrepreneurs are economic engines of the economy in any country. Through SaskPower, and now through the PTRC, I have come to see how startups and entrepreneurs help to shape the world.

Any advice for current and future Engineering students?

Having an Engineering degree is a blessing and with an engineering background you can do anything you want in industry. Engineers play very important roles in shaping the past, present and future of the world – we all should be very proud to be engineers. My advice – don’t forget about the financial aspects of what you are doing.  Finance and economics can kill the greatest plans.  Make sure your technical and engineering plans make financial and economic sense.

What goals have you set out in your new role at PTRC and how to you plan on accomplishing them?

I am very excited and fortunate to lead a world class team consisting of experienced Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) in Carbon Capture Utilization & Storage (CCUS) and Subsurface Energy Management - "ESG solutions providers".

PTRC is a world-leader in sustainable subsurface energy and CCUS management. Its extensive network of industrial partners, government agencies, and organizations position it perfectly to assist project developers in realizing energy and efficiency goals while addressing the demands of profitability as Canada moves towards its Net-Zero 2050 targets.

I am hoping to help the company accelerate the development of technologies and processes that reduce the carbon footprint of subsurface energy while maintaining the economic and energy goals of Canadians.  Those two goals can appear to be contradictory, but not necessarily so. Research and development (R&D) are the key to making sure environmental and economic solutions support each other.

How is PTRC helping companies and researchers advance energy efficiencies?

The Petroleum Technology Research Centre is a world leader in the development of enhanced oil recovery (EOR) and carbon dioxide storage demonstration projects.

The PTRC seeks to be an incubator, accelerator, and developer of research and innovation to reduce the carbon footprint and increase the production of subsurface energy.

Our important field trials have included: the IEAGHG Weyburn-Midale CO2 Monitoring and Storage Project; the Joint Implementation of Vapour Extraction (JIVE) Project that looked at three separate oil field applications of solvent vapour extraction technologies; and the Aquistore CO2 Storage Project associated with SaskPower's Boundary Dam Carbon Capture Facility in southeastern Saskatchewan.

PTRC works by leveraging government with private sectors funds, collaborating with different companies to identify the areas of research and field trials that will have the most impact reducing CO2 emissions and improving efficiencies. PTRC works directly with researchers, connecting them to companies that have challenges that need to be solved, and we design research projects with scientists to help address those challenges.

There can’t be Net-Zero without building bridges between the companies providing energy, and the researchers and regulators that want to see emissions go down.  We are the bridge between those groups.

What makes Saskatchewan a great place for research and innovation in energy technology?

Saskatchewan organizations and people are very humble – they don’t let the world know enough about the province’s achievements.  We do some amazing world-class cutting-edge work in the province. Saskatchewan has the perfect eco-system for world class research & development through strong educational institutions like U of R, U of S, Saskatchewan Polytechnic, SRC, and the FNUC.  We have the great minds and organizations right here to get the work done, and the amazing resources (oil, uranium, lithium, geothermal energy and great agriculture economy as well) to disseminate our knowledge to the world. We can provide both energy and food security to the world.

What role do you see students playing in the future of energy innovation and technology?

Students will play very important roles in creating new jobs and finding cost effective innovative solutions and products to help with climate change. Many of the skills created through existing engineering and geology programs at Saskatchewan’s universities have created skills that can be redirected towards making energy production cleaner in Saskatchewan, Strong institutions like U of R will play a very important role shaping students for a new energy future and creating more value for the economy. I strongly believe the current generation of students are smart, hardworking, and very creative – they do really care about what is happening around them and looking to solve problems. I see a very strong future with our students in new initiatives taking hold in Canada.

Research is part of the Discovery area of focus in the University of Regina’s [2020-2025 Strategic Plan kahkiyaw kiwȃhkomȃkȃninawak – All Our Relations]. The University values and supports an environment that allows for high-quality teaching, research, and learning that strengthens the academic successes of our students and faculty and improves the lives of Canadians.