WVU helps countries better understand responsible development, management and impact of unconventional gas resources
Recognizing the depth and breadth of its knowledge about unconventional natural gas resources, the United States Department of State has called on West Virginia University to share that expertise with the world.
With increasing interest in natural gas development both in the U.S. and worldwide, the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources has reached a cooperative agreement with WVU to create the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment, or INFUSE, a unique technical program dedicated to increasing other countries’ understanding of best practices for unconventional gas resource development through a mix of classroom and in the field activities.
Housed within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and in collaboration with the WVU Energy Institute, INFUSE uses scientific, technical, policy and environmental lessons that the University has learned through its decades of research to inform international delegations on how proper development and management can reduce environmental risks and lead to sustainable resource development.
“The INFUSE program demonstrates WVU’s leadership and expertise on this critical, global energy topic,” says Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute. “We have seen the widespread development of unconventional oil and gas production completely change the energy landscape of the United States and seen the best industry practices evolve over the past decade.
“WVU researchers have continually been on the forefront of developing these technologies and policy innovations; thus, we are uniquely positioned to educate others in the issues and best practices in unconventional hydrocarbon development,” Anderson said.
The program draws upon additional WVU expertise from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design the College of Law School of Public Health Regional Research Institute and the West Virginia Water Research Institute. Topics include policies, data, environment, safety, health, water usage, emissions, outreach and engagement with communities, workforce development, risks and rewards, policies and more. To date, four countries have participated (Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, Lithuania). Additional countries will be visiting WVU beginning this fall.
WVU researchers from multiple areas of study have been examining all aspects of shale gas development since production began a decade ago. The most recent interdisciplinary project was the formation of the nation’s first integrated research initiative on shale gas drilling, completion and production.
The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, known as MSEEL, is a partnership with The Ohio State University, Northeast Natural Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Scientists, engineers, ecologists, public health professionals, social scientists and more from eight units across the University, in addition to partnering organizations, are collecting data in real time from a science well and two production wells, as well as the surrounding site, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire life cycle – from drilling to completion to production.
Tim Carr, professor in the department of geology and geography and principal investigator of MSEEL, is an enthusiastic proponent of INFUSE. “MSEEL and other WVU research efforts on unconventional resources in the Appalachian basin and around the world provides a solid foundation for the short courses, site visits, and briefings that comprise our global outreach efforts.”
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