Energy Engineer of the Year – Rosalind Archer
Rosalind Archer is a distinguished engineer who holds a wide variety of roles in the New Zealand energy industry and internationally.
As director of the University of Auckland’s Geothermal Institute and head of the Department of Engineering Science, Archer is a highly regarded academic. She was promoted to the rank of professor in 2013, which the university says recognised her combined excellence in engineering research, education and leadership.
Archer has been with the university since 2002. Prior to that she was an academic at Texas A&M University and at Stanford, where she completed her PhD in petroleum engineering, including a minor in geological and environmental science.
Her focus is now primarily on geothermal energy but her technical expertise and background in petroleum engineering is invaluable.
Archer continues to publish ‘single-authored’ papers for a range of academic journals and conferences, despite her many other commitments. This is unusual and demonstrates her personal commitment to research.
The Master of Energy Programme at Auckland was driven by Archer, and it’s something she is particularly proud of. The programme attracts around 35 students from all over the world annually, with graduates going on to work in a range of energy companies including Top Energy, Mighty River Power, Contact Energy and Greymouth Petroleum.
Archer’s involvement in the Gorgon LNG project is an example of her technical work having a wider impact. She was the only engineer on an international team that conducted two rounds of due diligence on the subsurface aspects of Gorgon’s CO2 sequestration project.
The team’s technical reports enabled the necessary law change to give the project the green light. When completed it will be one of the largest geological sequestration projects in the world.
Among her roles, Archer is the Mighty River Power chair in Geothermal Engineering, an industry-funded professorial chair role that provides $1 million in funding over five years for her research. Awards of this kind are rare and the university considers this to be a New Zealand-first from an energy company.
Archer values the independence her university role offers and which allows her to act as a ‘critic and conscience of society’.
An example of this was her providing comment to the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment on hydraulic fracturing. She also acted as an expert witness in Todd Energy’s 2010 court case against its partners in the Pohokura gas field.
Since 2014 Archer has served as an independent director of New Zealand Oil & Gas. Chair Rodger Finlay says she is a highly valued member of the team who can “navigate complex engineering and reservoir issues” and also brings “a strong generalist and enquiring perspective” to the board’s work.
Archer was internationally recognised as a ‘distinguished member’ of the Society of Petroleum Engineers in 2015; the first New Zealand-based engineer to be awarded this position. She was also awarded the Society’s Regional Distinguished Achievement Award for Petroleum Engineering Faculty (Asia Pacific Region) in 2011.
The Energy Engineer of the Year award category is sponsored by IPENZ