3.1.1. Key Questions and Related R&D Goals
Prior to the implementation of the EGSP there was considerable uncertainty about the
magnitude of the potential shale gas resource that precluded industry from knowing
where to drill.
There was very little information available on the Devonian shale
stratigraphic and structural framework in any of the eastern basins and state geologic
surveys were not being funded to map such speculative resources.
Furthermore, nothing was known about the geochemistry of gas bearing shales or the
degree of maturity necessary to support the presence of gas. Without cores, logs and
maps of the shale gas depositional environment and tectonic activity, the knowledge base
was lacking for exploration into this high risk, marginally economic resource.
Similarly, technology for recovery was limited to existing completion techniques (i.e.,
borehole shooting with explosives) that were becoming obsolete. The practical aspects of
fracturing as a cost effective recovery enhancement method for shale gas wells had not
Furthermore, comparative analysis of alternative stimulation methods
(e.g., foam fracturing, massive hydraulic fracturing, chemical explosives, propellants, or
high density explosives) had not been done to any degree that could guide industry to
choices that were suited to the variable natural fracture systems found in Eastern gas
shales. Finally, the potential benefits of drilling horizontally through naturally fractured
shales had never been investigated.
The EGSP was designed as a multidisciplinary research effort to provide the information
that was lacking. The primary overall goals were:
Specific objectives of the EGSP were to:
- To develop technologies that would establish effective and environmentally
acceptable means for locating and producing natural gas from Devonian shales, and
- To reduce the uncertainty surrounding the potential magnitude of reserves so that the
private sector would be encouraged to develop the resource on a large scale.
- Develop accurate estimates of gas-in-place and economically recoverable resources,
- Develop exploration rationales for the identification of prospects, and
- Develop and improve cost-effective extraction methods.
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