Current DOE offshore research has its roots in the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research (UDW) Program launched in 2007 by EPAct 2005. The public/private partnership was designed to benefit consumers by developing environmentally-friendly technologies to increase America’s domestic oil and gas production while reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign imports. Subsequent to the Macondo (Deepwater Horizon) incident, the UDW Program became focused on safety and environmental sustainability. This mission and synergistic research to support the DOE/Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement’s (BSEE) memorandum of collaboration form the basis of the current Offshore Program.
Although the Title IX, Subtitle J, Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Sec. 999) was rescinded by Congress with the passage of the fiscal year 2014 (FY14) budget, projects continued through September 2016. These can be grouped under four technology areas that support a safety and environmental sustainability focus: geologic uncertainty, drilling and completion systems, surface facilities and umbilicals, and subsea systems reliability.
The current Offshore Program is working to expand the work of these projects through a solicitation to be released in the coming months.
Increasingly, offshore domestic oil and natural gas activities are associated with remote and challenging regions, such as the ultra-deepwater (greater than 5,000 feet) Gulf of Mexico and the offshore Arctic. Development in these areas poses unique technical and operational challenges, as well as distinct environmental and societal concerns. Domestic resources of natural gas and oil will continue to play an increasingly critical role in meeting U.S. energy needs, provided they can be produced with the confidence that environmental and economic risk is reduced. The science base necessary to support stakeholder decisions stems from the ability to understand the behavior of engineered-natural systems over a range of often offshore conditions.
The Offshore Research Portfolio is a suite of projects that focuses on innovative solutions to solve the challenges associated with geohazard prediction, subsurface uncertainty reduction, and oil and gas infrastructure integrity and optimization for new and existing infrastructure systems.
These technologies and advances reduce the likelihood, and prevent impacts from, damaging events associated with offshore oil and gas drilling and production, while improving the economic potential of these domestic resources.