DOE's Unconventional Gas Research Programs 1976-1995
SOURCE: U.S. Department of the Interior, Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region

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 been investigated.

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:

  • 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.
Specific objectives of the EGSP were to:
  • 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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Cover Page

Executive Summary

1. Background

2. GRI Research into Unconventional Gas Resources

3. Structure of the Enhanced Gas Recovery Program (EGR)

  • 3.1. Eastern Gas Shales Program (1976-1992)

  • 3.1.1. Key Questions and Related R&D Goals
  • 3.1.2. Program Design and Overview of Major Projects
  • 3.1.3. Key Eastern Gas Shales Projects
  • 3.1.4. Highlights of Important Results
  • 3.1.5. Subsequent Developments in DOE and Other Research Related to Eastern Gas Shales

  • 3.2. Western Gas Sands Program (1978-1992)

  • 3.2.1. Key Questions and Related R&D Goals
  • 3.2.2. Program Design and Overview of Major Projects
  • 3.2.3. Key Western Gas Sands Projects
  • 3.2.4. Highlights of Important Results
  • 3.2.5. Subsequent Developments in DOE Research Related to Tight Gas Sands

  • 3.3. Methane Recovery from Coalbeds Program (1978-1982)

  • 3.3.1. Key Questions Related to Coal Seam Methane
  • 3.3.2. MRCP Program Design and Overview
  • 3.3.3. Key Methane Recovery from Coalbeds Projects
  • 3.3.4. Highlights of Important Results
  • 3.3.5. Subsequent Research Related to Methane Recovery from Coalbeds

  • 3.4. Deep Source Gas Project (1982-1992)

  • 3.4.1. Key Deep Source Gas Projects
  • 3.4.2. Highlights of Important Results

  • 3.5. Methane Hydrates Program (1982-1992)

  • 3.5.1. Methane Hydrates Workshop (March 1982)
  • 3.5.2. Key Questions and Related R&D Goals
  • 3.5.3. Program Design
  • 3.5.4. Major Contracted Gas Hydrates Projects
  • 3.5.5. Methane Hydrate Research Efforts of METC's In-House Organization
  • 3.5.6. Highlights of Important Results
  • 3.5.7. Subsequent Developments in Methane Hydrate Research

  • 3.6. Secondary Gas Recovery (1987-1995)

  • 3.6.1. Key Objectives and Program Design
  • 3.6.2. Major Projects
  • 3.6.3. Major Results

    4. Elements of Spreadsheet Bibliographies (by Program)

    Appendix A: Details of Major 1970-1980 Unconventional Gas Resource Assessments

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