Stavanger, Norway-based energy venture capital firm Energy Ventures has invested an undisclosed amount in Houston-based Oxane Materials Inc., a Rice University nanotechnology spin-off.

The investment will fund the commercialization of OxFrac, an ultralight ceramic proppant with the potential to help increase North American gas production.

            Energy Ventures believes OxFrac will to increase oil and gas recoveries, particularly in unconventional and increasingly vital assets such as shale by increasing effective fracture length, enhancing control over created fracture geometry and reducing the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing.

The proppant will be commercially available in 2009.

Energy Ventures investment manager Jim Sledzik says, “There is significant potential for this product to improve the economics in unconventional oil and gas plays. This technology is going to become increasingly important as the industry looks for ways to increase ultimate recovery and cut drilling and completion costs.”

            Oxane Materials president Chris Coker says, “Oxane is proud to partner with Energy Ventures. Their investment will bring OxFrac from the lab to the field. Energy Ventures’ proven track record as oil and gas focused investors, entrepreneurs, and line managers will afford significant value to Oxane.” SJP