NETL Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research Portfolio

Research performed through NETL’s Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources portfolio involves a combined field, experimental and modeling effort, and is consistent with the capabilities and research contributions for DOE as outlined in the Federal Multiagency Collaboration on Unconventional Oil and Gas Research (
The current UCR portfolio consists of thirteen activities, grouped into four theme areas.

  • Fugitive Emissions and GHG: NETL efforts focus on improving fugitive emissions factor calculations and field emissions data sets for natural gas operations.
  • Produced Water Management: NETL efforts focus on improving knowledge of produced water volumes and compositions, and influences of different treatment processes on management of produced liquid and solid wastes.
  • Subsurface Fluid and Gas Migration: NETL efforts focus on an ability to evaluate the influence of wellbores and natural pathways on gas and fluid leakage, and the development of specific tracer tools to track gas and fluid migration in the subsurface.
shale gas
Unconventional Energy Altas

Deliver Integrated Assessments for improved science-based assessments of:

  • Fugitive Air Emissions and GHG
  • Produced Water Management
  • Subsurface Migration of Gas and Fluids
  • Induced Seismicity

Research Plan Organization:

  • Science Base to Support Assessments
  • Tools for Data Management and Model Baselines
  • Development of Integrated Assessments


  • NETL’s models (verified with field-based microseismic measurements) have demonstrated the infeasibility of hydraulic fractures extending to drinking water aquifers. These validated/calibrated models are being used to evaluate the possibility of release of gases through combined fracture/wellbore pathways.
  • NETL’s methodology for calculating emissions factors for methane release during upstream shale gas activities is in the final stages of development.
  • NETL developed a rapid-throughput analysis technique for analyzing natural tracers as indicators of fluid leakage from shale gas systems (strontium isotopes). These techniques decrease sample processing and analysis time by an order of magnitude (one day versus one week to process a sample set). The method is currently undergoing external peer review.

NETL Complementary Research Program FY 2013 Portfolio summarizes research to be conducted under the two research efforts: ultra-deepwater and unconventional oil and gas resources