The Marcellus Shale Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (MSEEL) is at work on its latest well at a new site in West Virginia, examining a 139-foot core sample taken from the formation that could yield more data to improve unconventional development in the Appalachian Basin.

MSEEL, a partnership between West Virginia University, Ohio State University and Northeast Natural Energy, is part of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The partnership said last year it would develop a site in Monongalia County, WV, about six miles west of its original site in Morgantown, where work began in 2015.

The core was taken from a test well drilled late last year at the new site.

“Our work is allowing us to characterize a rock core from the new well in Monongalia County to better understand the structure and variation of the Marcellus formation,” said NETL research engineer Dustin Crandall. “The scans we are doing of this new core sample will provide detailed datasets not typically available from shales for analysis.”

The latest well that provided the core is one of six wells included in the MSEEL field laboratory, where researchers are working to better understand source rock and improve production.

Crandall said NETL expects the core to generate information that could be used by stakeholders throughout the region. The research team is using computed tomography, or CT scanning, to produce cross-sectional images of the core, allowing researchers to see inside the object without cutting.

A multi-sensor core logger is also being used to measure physical properties at centimeter-scale resolutions to help measure bulk density, natural gamma ray spectra and elemental concentrations, among other things.

Researchers, NETL said, eventually would have the capability to access the resulting datasets through its energy data exchange online system.

Northeast Natural, which operates conventional and unconventional wells in the region, drilled an observation well and production wells at the Morgantown site to enhance resource recovery and gauge any environmental impacts from unconventional development. The Monongalia County site is being developed to compare the findings and techniques employed at both locations.