Thanks to a recent contribution from Noble Energy, West Virginia University and the independent exploration and production company will partner on a collaborative research proposal to enhance energy development.

A team of researchers from the School of Natural Resources in the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design and Noble Energy will explore the possibility of using the non-composted, or “woods-run,” hardwood chips in filter sock application to control sediment transport during construction of unconventional well sites.

Filter socks allow water to flow at a controlled rate while trapping sediment and preventing the water from carrying harmful materials into streams. In addition to being used in places like construction sites, they are used on natural gas drilling sites and are filled with composted wood chips, which are transported on-site by trucks. Currently, composted chips must be used to adhere to government standards. When sites are cleared, the fresh wood (“woods-run”) chips created as a result of the clearing process are not utilized.

Shawn Grushecky, coordinator of the energy land management program, points to the timeliness of this research.

“It’s a very relevant gift given that the industry is in a recessionary period. One of the key objectives is to save on development costs, and one of the ways to do this is by being able to use some of the material that is wasted on site,” he said.

The potential positive outcomes go beyond saving money on development.

“If we’re able to use the green (“woods-run”) chips on site, it’s going to save companies money, use a product that is being wasted and reduce truck traffic on these sites, which is a benefit to local communities,” Grushecky stated.

This project resonates with Noble Energy, a company equally dedicated to energy, the environment and communities.

“Our partnership with West Virginia University reflects our commitment to leveraging innovation to safely and responsibly develop energy while minimizing environmental impacts,” said R.J. Moses, operations manager at Noble Energy. “We were attracted to this project because of the potential for wood chips to control erosion and thus reduce the need for additional outside erosion control products to be delivered by truck to our sites. The staff at West Virginia University’s Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design has been instrumental in evaluating this project’s potential.”

The filter sock research is being conducted through the Hardwood Research Trust (HRT), a research program developed to encourage innovation related to improving the value of poor quality Appalachian hardwoods. The HRT program, administered through the Appalachian Hardwood Center at WVU, was made possible through a generous contribution by the Richard Bowlby family and a matching gift from the WV Research Trust Fund.

Noble Energy has a track record of partnering with the WVU Davis College.

“I’m grateful for the many ways they support us, from serving as guest lecturers for my classes to providing great communication with our undergraduate students,” said Grushecky. “The partnership with Noble Energy is great. They are very committed to doing the right thing while keeping their environmental impacts low.”

Noble Energy’s contribution was made in conjunction with A State Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

For more information on how to make a gift to support the Hardwood Research Trust program, or any fund within the WVU Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, please contact Julie Cryser at (304) 293-2400 or



CONTACT: Nikky Luna, Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design

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