Texas A&M, HARC Launch Alliance to Promote Low-Impact Drilling

February 16, 2009
| By: Aubrey Bloom

The Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) and the Harold Vance Department of Petroleum Engineering at Texas A&M University announce the creation of a collaborative research program to promote advanced technology for low-impact oil and gas drilling. The University/National Laboratories Alliance, established as part of the Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) Program, will fund and transfer critical new technologies that can accelerate development of domestic reserves in a safe and environmentally-friendly manner. The research is aimed specifically at technologies that can be used in environmentally sensitive areas that are currently off limits to drilling and production. In addition to HARC and Texas A&M, founding members of the Alliance include: - University of Wyoming, - University of Colorado, - Utah State University, - Sam Houston State University, - University of Arkansas, - West Virginia University, - Argonne National Laboratory, and - Los Alamos National Laboratory. According to Rich Haut, manager of the Alliance and Senior Research Scientist at HARC, the goal is to fund the development of and share the latest research findings with leaders of energy, academia, environmental organizations, and government. "We will consider all aspects of energy resource recovery, not only traditional oil and natural gas production methods but also unconventional production, such as natural gas from shale or coal-bed methane," Dr. Haut said. "New technology and monitoring programs can show us how we can better manage precious natural resources while reducing our impact on the environment." Haut encourages other national laboratories and universities to contact him about participation in the Alliance. David Burnett, EFD project manager and Director of Technology at the Global Petroleum Research Institute (GPRI) within Texas A&M Engineering, said the new Alliance is a great example of how federal funding of research and development can make important contributions to both energy security and environmental preservation. The GPRI is a center within the Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES). Burnett explained that EFD represents new low-impact technologies that can reduce the footprint of drilling activities. "For example, we are currently examining the use of light-weight drilling rigs with reduced emission engine packages and efficient on-site waste management systems." Created in 2005, EFD is supported by the U.S. Department of Energy National Energy Technology Laboratory and the energy industry. The growing EFD partnership consists of universities, national laboratories, energy producers and service companies, environmental organizations, and government agencies. Created in 1982, HARC is a not-for-profit organization based in The Woodlands, Texas, dedicated to improving human and ecosystem well-being through the application of sustainability science and principles of sustainable development.

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