Research Initiatives on Unconventional Natural Gas from Shale

by Duane Nichols on July 30, 2012

Upshur County Drill Site

Federal Cooperation Among DOE, EPA, and Interior

Recently, three federal agencies announced a formal partnership to coordinate and align all research associated with development of our nation’s abundant unconventional natural gas and oil resources. The partnership exemplifies the cross-government coordination required under President Obama’s Executive Order released earlier, which created a new Inter- agency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources.

This new partnership will help co- ordinate current and future research and scientific studies undertaken by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Interior – better positioning the Obama administration to ensure that continued expansion of natural gas and oil production happens safely and responsibly as part of an all-of-the-above approach to American energy in which science plays a guiding and critical role.

For more information about the partnership and to view the Memorandum of Agreement outlining this coordination, visit the following Internet web-site here.

Proposed Shale Development Research Center at WVU

Legislators working on a bill to approve WVU’s Shale Research Center wrestled Tuesday morning with a question posed by Sen. Ronald Miller, D-Greenbrier: “Are we going to focus on fixing every center in West Virginia or just this one?” 

Bill Hutchens, WVU’s general counsel and vice president for corporate and legal affairs, and Bruce Walker, HEPC general counsel, explained the issues to a joint Finance subcommittee Tuesday? Hutchens said a dream project for the research center was put on hold by the recent dive in natural gas prices — but he’s working to get it going again.

WVU wants to work with an operator to drill a horizontal well on WVU land. It would be a working well, generating money for the operator. But it would also be a research well, with every bit of data from the first turn of dirt through drilling and production and on being shared to advance knowledge in the field. 

When gas prices fell, operators cut back their drilling plans. “Now I’m looking for money to fund the work, from industry and others,” Hutchens said, as reported in the Morgantown Dominion Post newspaper.

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