By: Peter M. Duncan
In a world where at every turn it seems “Big Oil” is criticized for reckless financial abandon and no regard for the little man, it is not only refreshing but downright exhilarating to read that Shell Oil is making a significant donation of $7.5 million to the University of Texas at Austin (UT).
The donation is to be spent studying improved methods for extracting oil and gas from unconventional rock formations- a topic near and dear to MicroSeismic’s heart. UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology will manage the 5-year program.
Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau, said, “At the end of the day, everyone wants to know what the best answers are.” The chief goal of this endeavor is to grow the understanding of the subsurface characteristics of shales, coalbed methane and other tight, complex formations. This knowledge will aid on helping to extract resources more efficiently and economically, as well as in a more environmentally sensitive way.
This effort is critical and I sincerely hope other energy companies will take a cue from Shell and make similar efforts. The U.S. Energy Information Administration has recently estimated that shale gas, tight gas and coalbed methane accounted for 50 percent of U.S. natural gas production in 2009 and could rise to 75 percent by 2035.
In a time where the world demands more energy than we can produce and economies across the globe face staggering unemployment figures, it’s up to all of us – individuals and corporations – to do what we can to stimulate our knowledge and expertise of the natural resources available to us. We applaud Shell for setting the right example.