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DOE to Help Fund 11 Unconventional Gas Research Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has set aside $12.4 million to help fund 11 research projects designed to help find ways to extract more energy from unconventional oil and gas resources while reducing environmental risks.

The selections include $10.3 million for eight projects that will reduce the environmental risks of shale gas development while accelerating the application of new exploration and production technologies, DOE said. The largest DOE share will go to CSI Technologies' "Lowering Drilling Cost, Improving Operational Safety and Reducing Environmental Impact Through Zonal Isolation Improvements for Horizontal Wells Drilled in the Marcellus and Haynesville Shales" project, which will receive $3 million from the agency. Houston-based CSI has committed another $2.5 million to the two-year project, which will evaluate cementing practices currently in use in the shale plays.

Other shale-related projects selected to receive DOE funding are Colorado School of Mines' "Development of Non-Contaminating Cryogenic Fracturing Technology for Shale and Tight Gas Reservoirs" ($2 million), "Novel Engineered Osmosis Technology: A Comprehensive Approach to the Treatment and Reuse of Produced Water and Drilling Wastewater ($1.3 million) and "Predicting Higher-Than-Average Permeability Zones in Tight-Gas Sands, Piceance Basin: An Integrated Structural And Stratigraphic Analysis" ($512,000); GE Global Research's "NORM Mitigation and Clean Water Recovery from Marcellus Frac Water" ($1.6 million); Texas A&M University's "Diagnosis of Multiple Fracture Stimulation in Horizontal Wells by Downhole Temperature Measurement for Unconventional Oil and Gas Wells" ($763,000) and "A Geomechanical Analysis of Gas Shale Fracturing and Its Containment" ($651,000); and Houston Advanced Research Center's "Technology Integration Program" ($500,000).

The total value of the shale-related projects is more than $17.0 million over three years, with approximately $6.7 million of cost-share provided by the recipients.

Information gained from the shale projects will further DOE's effort to quantify the risks of environmental impacts from unconventional gas development, and to develop technologies to reduce those risks and mitigate any unforeseen impacts, the agency said. The results of the research will be accessible to the industry, regulators and the public.

Another $2.1 million will go to three projects investigating innovative processes for extracting additional oil from mature domestic oil fields, including enhanced oil recovery. Selected by DOE were The University of Texas of the Permian Basin's "Identifying and Developing Technology for Enabling Small Producers to Pursue the Residual Oil Zone Fairways of the Permian Basin, San Andres" ($859,000); Power, Environmental, Energy Research Institute's "Game Changing Technology of Polymeric-Surfactants for Tertiary Oil Recovery in the Illinois Basin" ($624,000); and Correlations Co.'s "Predicting Porosity and Saturations from Mud Logs and Drilling Information Using Artificial Intelligence with Focus on a Horizontal Well" ($575,000).

Recipients of the mature domestic oil fields-related funding will contribute a total of approximately $1.1 million to their projects, DOE said.

All of the research contracts will be administered by the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America under the management of DOE's Office of Fossil Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory.

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