Department of Energy releases 2012 Unconventional Resources R&D Plan

Last week, the US Department of Energy submitted the 2012 Annual Unconventional Resources R&D Plan to Congress. Don’t worry if you don’t have time to read the 200+ page document, I’ve provided a few highlights for you here.

The plan outlines federal spending of $50 million toward an oil and natural gas R&D effort called The Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research Program. The goal of the program is to inform the federal government of ways to increase environmental sustainability in energy production and identify risks associated with developing natural resources. After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in 2010, a more focused approach on developing environmentally sensitive technologies has emerged.

Specifically the 2012 plan sets out to address the following issues:
* Environmental impact and safety improvements in shale gas production
* Preventing and mitigating environmental impacts of offshore production

I’m particularly interested in research on shale gas production, which is led by the Unconventional Resources Program. The program is seeking research projects on a wide variety of topics, including protecting groundwater and air quality, understanding rock and fluid interactions, and integrated environmental protection. Cooperative R&D between independent producers and similar federal programs are what triggered the recent shale gas revolution in the United States. Technology developments continue to play a critical role in protecting the environment while developing domestic resources.

I will continue to monitor developments in the shale gas production industry: what new regulations are on the horizon, and how innovations in shale gas production will impact the environment. Stay tuned.

Carissa Ries

water well expert

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