Appalachian Basin

*UPDATE* Ohio State, WVU Team Up for Shale Research

UPDATE (5:05 pm ET, 7/23/2013): Ohio State University is again announcing big news concerning research on Ohio’s shale development.  Just four months after announcing a research partnership with West Virginia University, Ohio’s largest public university has announced an interest in studying a working shale well on university land.

OSU owns mineral rights to 780 acres around their research station in Noble County.  The school’s Shale Water Management Research Cluster is looking to use the well to research subjects such as waste water treatment.  The University of Tennessee has a similar plan to study hydraulic fracturing on 8,600 acres of university-owned property in Tennessee’s Cumberland Forest (academic research that the Sierra Club opposes, for some reason).

Dr. Jeff Daniels, director of OSU’s Subsurface Energy Resource Center, has spoken with Energy In Depth many times on how shale development can provide jobs for his students. He emphasized that this project would provide for “constructive research” on a topic of growing importance to the Ohio economy.

Ohio State is actually conducting several research projects related to hydraulic fracturing and drilling. For the shale well project, the Subsurface Energy Resource Center has applied for an $8 million Department of Energy grant.  Energy In Depth looks forward to more academic interest in Ohio’s shale development.

Original post, March 1, 2013

Two major universities in our region are recognizing the impact shale development is having on Ohio and West Virginia.  Ohio State University and West Virginia University are partnering to research the economic implications as well as environmental, community, and public health impacts of natural gas and shale development.  The schools will exchange information on Utica and Marcellus shale development and are expecting to create field laboratories throughout the region.

Ohio State President Gordon E. Gee signed the agreement on February 8, although the idea first came to light last April at the Public and Land-Grant University Conference on Energy Challenges.  President Gee elaborated on the project in the university’s newspaper, The Lantern:

This singular partnership demonstrates the wisdom of universities collaborating with one another. West Virginia University and Ohio State have complementary research strengths in this area. Working together, our faculty will take a unique leadership role that will advance our shared, scientific understanding of the complex environmental and economic issues in shale energy—President Gordon E. Gee (Ohio State, West Virginia agree on costly shale energy deal, 2/20/13)

Jeff Daniels, earth sciences professor at Ohio State, will be heavily involved in the project.  Energy In Depth has repeatedly visited the student group he coordinates at the university, the Buckeye Shale Energy Organization.  The students have a shared interest in the shale industry and hope to become involved after graduation.  Many of the students will assist in research for the project.  BSEO President Vince Melillo spoke with Energy In Depth about the significance of shale development and why the research is being done:

BSEO is very excited about the recent partnership between WVU and OSU. Moving into 2013, shale energy exploration continues to rise as a prominent area of interest in our state. The proposed topics of research focus (subsurface area, utilization, environment and public policies) represent elements vital to the all-around success of the shale industry in Ohio and throughout the nation—Vince Melillo

Daniels said researchers will come from across the university including from the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, the School of Environmental Sciences, the School of Environmental and Natural Resources, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Engineering, and the College of Public Health.

Daniels echoed President Gee’s comments on the complementary research efforts the two universities will provide:

I think we have two universities that happen to have strengths in certain areas that are very complementary.  And combining our efforts, we’re clearly going to make the sum greater than the parts, the total greater than our individual efforts, and we will be able to be more effective in our research and educational outreach efforts in the Appalachian region—Professor Jeff Daniels (Ohio State, West Virginia agree on costly shale energy deal, 2/20/13)

Across the river in West Virginia, the move was met with equal enthusiasm. WVU President Jim Clements echoed the excitement voiced by President Gee, and highlighted the importance of the move for both universities. In acknowledging this importance, President Clements also noted the larger implications of this research, and it’s role in shaping our new energy future:

I am very excited about this partnership between two land-grant, flagship, research universities on an issue that is of great importance. By working together we will enhance our capacity to do cutting-edge research, high-quality teaching and effective outreach on shale energy. This partnership will also enhance our ability to serve the energy needs of our states, nation and world. – WVU President Jim Clements (WVU, OSU create partnership for shale energy research, outreach and education, 2/11/13)

This meaningful partnership shows the significance of shale development in the region.  Two universities are devoting time, money, and brilliant minds to the industry that will improve Appalachia’s economic landscape for years to come. This effort is being applauded nationwide, with APLU president Peter McPherson offering his praise of the move:

Energy from shale is a huge resource of vast regional importance that will be tapped and how we do it will have lasting effects. I am pleased that these two premier land grant universities are available to take a leadership role in increasing our knowledge of the correct way to harvest this resource. – APLU president Peter McPherson (WVU, OSU create partnership for shale energy research, outreach and education, 2/11/13)

With shale development transforming the economic future of the entire Appalachian Basin, the focus by these universities will further the opportunity for our future homegrown energy leaders. And, with development beginning to expand across the region, the timing of this partnership could not have been better.

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