Research conducted through NETL’s Advanced Offshore Research portfolio is focused on developing a scientific base for reducing and quantifying potential risks associated with exploration and production in offshore environments.  These projects seek to offer better tools, data, models, and analyses for offshore stakeholders to better predict, prepare and prevent costs, risks, inefficiencies, and safety concerns with offshore systems.  NETL's work consists currently of six projects that align to three primary areas of R&D:

  • Offshore materials integrity - Improved understanding of performance and use of metal alloys and lightweight cements used in offshore systems.
  • Risk Reduction & Subsurface Uncertainty Reduction - Developing modeling and data systems, from subsurface to the shore, to support multi-variate and multi-system predictions to identify knowledge/technology gaps for spill prevention.
  • Rapid Detection and In situ Characterization - Development of tools to allow for the rapid evaluation and assessment of risks and potential environmental impacts associated with offshore activities. These tools can be utilized by a variety of users including regulators for permit/application assessments, researchers and policy makers to evaluate technology and/or current-practices gaps, and government in the event of a spill which requires rapid, independent and quantitative evaluations.

The above research areas are accomplished through a combination of laboratory-based experimental and characterization studies, integration and interpretation of field-based datasets, and development and application of numerical simulators. The work is performed by an interdisciplinary team comprised of Federal, contractor, and academic scientists and engineers.

Developing tools and information to evaluate and predict what happens
in engineered-natural systems
NETL Automated Video Analysis of
Simulated Leak


The research includes building a general understanding of:

  • Spatial variations in key properties of the engineered-natural system that affect risk
  • Predicting in situ conditions required for assessing risk, borehole/drilling design, loss of control conditions in deepwater and ultra-deepwater settings
  • Wellbore integrity, both near-term and long-term in offshore settings
  • Improving safety through rapid detection and in situ characterization
  • Tools and techniques to monitor and quickly detect potential hazards for offshore hydrocarbon

The research in this portfolio builds on DOE’s core competencies to simulate and predict behavior of engineered-natural systems.  Ultimately, this work will result in key inputs and an integrated assessment modeling platform to allow for independent, rapid, science-based prediction of offshore hydrocarbon production risks and potential environmental impacts.

The Offshore portfolio is focused on reducing risks and environmental impacts from offshore hydrocarbon production