Funded by RPSEA, Industry and Environmental Organizations

This Project was completed in 2012.

The overall mission is to foster dialogue among all stakeholders (the public, industry, environmental organizations, academia, and government agencies/regulators) concerning EFD systems that are or could be in use in environmentally sensitive ecosystems to produce unconventional natural gas reservoirs. The program focused on reducing costs while increasing environmental stewardship. With partners from across the country, the RPSEA EFD program enables a cost-effective, synergistic approach to identifying, developing and transferring technologies.

The EFD completed program provided a base and the justification for needed supporting research and field demonstration tasks we will be conducting in the RPSEA funded TIP program.

The RPSEA EFD program leveraged on‐going research in order to move technologies closer to field application and subsequent commercialization. The program included (a) commercialization of technology to treat and reuse produced water, (b) development of Alternate Rig Power to reduce operating costs and emissions, and (c) identification and testing of improved technologies and equipment that will reduce the footprint of access roads and well pads, to optimize EFD technologies in E&P activities.

To inform the public of the industry’s environmental advancements in technology, the RPSEA EFD program developed a computer based model to select complementary environmentally friendly technologies for E&P operations along with an EFD Scorecard to measure performance. The model and the scorecard are important tools that allow industry and regulators to measure performance. The Scorecard concept engages all stakeholders, including industry, academia and environmental organizations, in identifying technologies and systems that can be used to recover unconventional natural gas reserves with the lowest possible environmental footprint. The Model and the Scorecard are based on the principles of what gets measured gets done and what gets identified gets dealt with.

Technology Transfer activities included the human dimension of technology incorporation in societal areas. Educating and informing were directed toward the industry, regulators and the public. To this effect, numerous presentations were made and papers published by the EFD team through members of the EFD University/National Laboratory Alliance.

The RPSEA EFD team includes the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) as the prime contractor working together with Texas A&M University (TAMU) and its Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI), Sam Houston State University, University of Arkansas, the University of Colorado, Utah State University, the University of Wyoming, West Virginia University, Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory and TerraPlatforms, L.L.C. A JIP provided cost share. The JIP included BP, CSI Technologies, Devon Energy, Gulf Coast Green Energy, Halliburton, Huisman, KatchKan USA, M‐I SWACO, Newpark Mats and Integrated Services, Chesapeake, Shell, Hess, Chevron, Tenaris, NOV, WyoComposites, Basin Engineering, Scott Environmental and ExxonMobil. The Nature Conservancy and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) provided in‐kind contributions. In the Northeast, the New York State Energy Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) helped promote the program.

Examples of the contributions and achievements of the EFD team include the following:

Systems Engineering Design Methodology – Low Impact Well Design Optimization

A web-based decision optimization tool using the causal deterministic approach was developed by Texas A&M University. The Systems Engineering Design Methodology is specific for the coastal margins of Texas. Led by Dr. Medina-Cetina, this project generalized the methodology and provided a framework into which play specific information could be placed, enabling the RPSEA regional partners to more efficiently ‘stand up’ and equivalent information site.


Best Practices Database

The Natural Resources Law Center (NRLC) at University of Colorado Law developed a free-access, searchable, database and supporting website for best management practices (BMPs). Launched in March of 2009, this version focuses on the Intermountain West (CO, MT, NM, UT, WY). It includes federal, state, and local regulatory requirements as well as voluntary practices currently in use, required, and/or recommended for protection of surface resources. www.oilandgasbmps.org


Dissemination and Decision Support

The University of Arkansas, sponsored by the US Department of Energy through the Low Impact Natural Gas and Oil (LINGO) Program, developed the Fayetteville Shale Information Web and the Fayetteville Shale Infrastructure Placement Decision Support System. The information site enables readers to learn about the natural gas resources available in the Fayetteville Shale formation in Arkansas and explains the steps followed by natural gas development companies. The site provides information about the state and federal regulatory requirements that developers must follow. It also describes some of the technologies that can be used to minimize the environmental impacts of natural gas development.


Western Mountain State Studies

The University of Wyoming (UW), in collaboration with the Bureau of Land Management, Heartland BioComposites (now WyoComp) and major upstream gas production companies, developed a layered mat, roll-out road system design using composite building materials to minimize the impact of oil field access to roads to well pads using the most sustainable approach possible. UW’s submission won first prize in Texas A&M University’s 2008 ‘Disappearing Roads’ competition. Field trials of the scale model system were conducted at the Pecos Desert Research test Center and were incorporated for the RPSEA project with recycled materials.


Public Perception

EFD Team members from Sam Houston State University and Utah State University conducted a study of the familiarity with and use of a range of environmentally-friendly natural gas exploration and production practices in the Uintah Basin (UB) of northeastern Utah.  The primary goals were to (1) document the use of EFD practices in the UB; (2) understand the drivers that have led to increased use of EFD practices, (3) identify remaining barriers to EFD use in this region.  It was also important to raise awareness of EFD practices among key actors in this area, and to better understand public concerns and priorities related to natural gas exploration and development.  The key outcomes included publishing “Assessing Opportunities and Barriers to Reducing the Environmental Footprint of Natural Gas Development in Utah’s Uintah Basin,” which summarized the research findings.


Eastern Mountain State Studies

The RPSEA EFD Team collaborated with the West Virginia University (WVU) to initiate an environmentally friendly E&P systems program. WVU is the lead organization for the Eastern U.S. Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC). WVU published the white paper, “Challenges Facing Developers of the Marcellus Shale” that identifies the needs and barriers associated with unconventional natural gas production in the Eastern mountain states.


National Laboratories Advisors

The National Laboratories Advisors supplied high-level research capability in environmental science, chemistry, materials, and engineering, and the ability to develop innovative solutions and technologies quickly. This project brought to end users research and technical expertise in Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) technologies, including geophysical methods, sensors, micro-drilling, risk assessment, modeling and cost analyses, and produced water treatment and reuse. Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) assisted the EFD partners with technology development, contracts, and commercialization. Argonne National Laboratory provided technical, analytical, and outreach support to the EFD Program.


Application for Semi-Arid Ecosystems

The EFD team met with operators concerning the application of EFD technologies in semi-arid ecosystems. To develop the environmental cost/benefit methodology, a workshop was held with appropriate representation from the project team and various environmental organizations. The project team also held workshops to show how Systems Engineering Design Methodology and the EFD Scorecard can be used to identify low impact systems. These meetings and workshops led to the finalization of the draft prototype EFD Scorecard. Additionally, the Nature Conservancy invited the EFD System program to perform noise surveys and performance measurement of various drilling and production equipment that is in use at the Texas City Prairie Reserve.


Prototype Small Footprint Drilling Rig

A review of rig technologies was developed and published. Huisman agreed to provide a LOC 400 rig at reduced rates for demonstrating its ability to drill with minimal environmental impact for less cost and with safer operations. M-I SWACO provided engineering time and cash to integrate waste minimization technology at the rig site. The various projects making up the microhole project were integrated into the Systems Engineering Model and the alternate power project was developed so that the entire rig operations can be powered at lower cost with lower emissions than conventional operations.


Air Emissions Studies

The project developed guidelines concerning the mitigation of oxides of nitrogen (NOx) for a drilling site and published them on the EFD website (www.efdsystems.org). The team also developed a baseline audit of operating practices during fracturing operations that form the source of emissions and become the starting point of efforts to measure, the mitigate those emissions. The Center for Applied Technology (TCAT), Texas A&M University System, led a team to collect air emissions data and develop a methodology for estimating/measuring emissions from a natural gas hydraulic fracturing operation, located in the Eagle Ford Shale Play. The emissions profiles developed as part of this study can be applied to other similar sites and further refined as additional data becomes available. These studies can also help to ensure that future air quality regulations are based on the best possible data.


Reduced Fracturing Footprints

This project identified alternatives available to reduce the footprint including offsite operations and innovative fracturing technologies such as a novel process involving: minimal pumping equipment, low volumes of frac fluid and the use of materials that are environmentally green and non-damaging.

Hart Energy interviewed the EFD management team to highlight the EFD project in the August, 2012 Hart Energy’s Techbook Supplement to Hart’s E&P. This commentary offered further clarification on the practices introduced and evaluated throughout the program, providing details on the founders and defining the relationship between industry, academia, the general public and the EFD Team.


Measuring Effectiveness of Environmentally Friendly Drilling

This collaborative effort between Sam Houston State University and Texas A&M University had two aspects:

Additionally, the RPSEA EFD team organized workshops to develop ecosystem specific scorecards. Input from environmental organizations, industry, universities and government agencies, was used to optimize the scorecards for the specific areas. The SPE 134253 paper “Public Perception of the Oil and Gas Industry: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” was presented at the 2010 ATCE in Florence, Italy (September, 2010).


Technology Transfer Efforts

Throughout the project, the EFD Team worked with RPSEA to develop and implement an effective Technology Transfer Program at both the project and program level. The team had developed an effective communication effort to all stakeholders in the form of articles, papers, presentations, website, newsletter, conferences, workshops, and meetings with policy makers.

Final Report can be read here.


For more information contact:

     Rich Haut, rhaut@HARCResearch.org, 281-364-6093