Shell and The University of Texas at Austin today signed a five-year agreement to invest $7.5 million to address short- and long-term challenges facing the growing worldwide unconventional oil and gas industry.
"This agreement marks an important milestone in Shell's commitment to continually research and develop innovative technology that will help to meet global demands by bringing more energy resources to market," said Marvin Odum, president of Shell Oil Co. "We chose to collaborate with UT because it brings together an extraordinary amount of talent from both organizations that will push the technological envelope in the field of developing even the most challenging hydrocarbons safely and responsibly."
Shale gas is abundant, widely used, and a growing source of energy in the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, shale gas, tight gas,and coalbed methane accounted for 50 percent of U.S. production in 2009 and are expected to account for 75 percent of production by 2035.
The new Shell-UT Program on Unconventional Resources will be managed by the university's Bureau of Economic Geology with participation across the campus, including geoscience, engineering, economics, business, environmental and regulatory affairs. In addition to top-ranking geology and petroleum engineering programs, the university has dedicated centers working in energy law, economics, finance and energy and environmental policy.
"The pursuit of unconventional energy resources is a complex, integrated problem that requires uniting the scientific and engineering efforts below ground with above-ground efforts in water, regulation and public awareness," said William Powers, president of The University of Texas at Austin. "As a major research university and leader in energy, we've got the integrated expertise to help solve it."
Scott Tinker, director of the Bureau of Economic Geology and an expert on global energy, notes that unconventional resources such as shale gas could extend natural gas production in the U.S. and globally from 50 to 100 years beyond recent estimates.
"Increased production of shale gas and other unconventional hydrocarbons could significantly enhance U.S. energy security," said Tinker, "since these are largely available, affordable and reliable domestic energy sources that contribute directly to the U.S. and global economy."
In addition to science and engineering, the Shell-UT agreement will try to integrate research to address environmental and public policy issues that could facilitate safer and wider adoption of onshore U.S. energy resources.
The agreement will also support students at The University of Texas at Austin, significantly enhancing the employability of students working on Shell-UT projects in the Jackson School of Geosciences, Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering and other departments at the university.