Unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resources (UCR) research through NETL’s Research & Innovation Center (RIC) is focused on developing the data and modeling tools needed to predict and quantify potential risks associated with oil and gas resources in shale reservoirs that require hydraulic fracturing or other engineering measures to produce. The major areas of focus include:
- Improving estimates of fugitive methane and greenhouse gas emissions
- Evaluating produced water during shale gas development
- Predicting subsurface fluid and gas migration
- Evaluating fracture growth and ground motion due to oil and gas operations
The above research areas require a combination of field monitoring, laboratory experimental and characterization, data mining, and modeling activities, and are being performed by an interdisciplinary team comprised of Federal, contractor, and academic scientists and engineers.
Schematic of hydraulically-fractured shale gas system
The research includes building a general understanding of:
- Spatial variations in reservoir properties that impact risk
- Wellbore integrity (particularly for pre-existing wellbores)
- Fracture propagation dynamics
- Groundwater and surface water geochemistry and hydrogeology
- Air quality
Results from the various components of this research plan will form the groundwork for developing an integrated assessment model for predicting subsurface risks associated with unconventional shale gas development.