Implementation of this project will result in a 760-acre Utica Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (USEEL) on a site where The Ohio State University holds all surface and subsurface rights and where unconventional oil and gas (UOG) development is planned but has not yet begun. This unique investment in scientific capacity is needed to: (a) validate enhanced and cost-effective technology for energy production from unconventional resources; (b) implement baseline monitoring of the environmental impact of current and developing UOG technologies and practices; (c) develop predictive tools and remediation solutions to problems above and below the surface; and (d) enhance and improve communications and community understanding of UOG development.
Data and information gathered at USEEL will be broadly disseminated to shale energy stakeholders to increase resource productivity and enhance environmental stewardship. The Laboratory will also establish field sites and analytical facilities as collaborative research venues for partners from industry, academia, government agencies and NGOs. The proposed USEEL site will provide a prime location to conduct long-term, transparent monitoring of the impact of UOG development. This project will contribute substantially to scientific understanding of possible environmental consequences of shale development, and to optimal management of subsurface energy resources. Project data will allow UOG producers to gain a better understanding of reservoir capacity and characteristics, optimal well spacing, and improved completion methods, all in the interest of increasing per-well production and reducing well numbers. Additionally, USEEL will provide a unique and comprehensive platform to develop and demonstrate best practices for environmental integrity, health and safety to the public and the industry alike.