The Department of Energy (DOE) proposed a $10 million cut infunding for natural gas research and development (R&ampD) as partof a $17.8 billion budget for fiscal year 2000 that it forwarded toCongress last week.

The department seeks $105 million for gas-related R&ampD, whichis about 9% less than the $115 million that was appropriated byCongress for fiscal 1999. Funding for gas lagged behind coal R&ampD($122.4 million) in Fossil Energy R&ampD’s overall budget requestof $375 million for the next fiscal year.

But all was not bad news for gas. Recognizing that oil and gasproducers alike face “pressing problems,” DOE combined R&ampDactivities (and funding) of petroleum and gas so that producerscould take “maximum advantage” of new technologies. DOE estimatedabout $26 million of gas’s R&ampD funding and most of petroleum’s$50 million R&ampD budget for FY 2000 would be spent to developadvanced technologies to locate and produce reserves that otherwisewould be bypassed or unmarketable. In addition, it is developing anR&ampD program aimed at converting large potential gas hydrateresources (estimated at up to 200,000 Tcf) into gas reserves.

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