The Strategic Center for Natural Gas and Oil (SCNGO) will carry out the task of overseeing all aspects of Title IX, Subtitle J of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 implementation. As directed by the legislation, SCNGO issued a solicitation in early FY06 for the selection of a consortium to administer programmatic research and development activities pertaining to the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program. In May 2006, RPSEA was selected by the NETL to administer the distribution of about $36 million per year in R&D contracts. The federal government will maintain management oversight of the program, and RPSEA’s administration costs are limited to no more than 10% of the funds.
RPSEA has a broad membership base that includes representatives from all levels and sectors of the oil and gas E&P and R&D communities. There are 100 plus organizations on the RPSEA membership list. Of these, 16% are smaller oil and gas producers, 5% are large producing companies, 23% are universities, 26% are technology development companies of all sizes and 9% are national labs or research institutes. This breadth of membership will help ensure consortium R&D funds are directed toward key problems in ways that leverage existing industry efforts. For example, DeepStar, a common forum the offshore industry uses to address the technical issues confronting deepwater production, includes RPSEA members. DeepStar members collectively fund activities to advance needed technology and avoid duplicating work that has already been done. It will also help RPSEA do the same. More details on the progress of the program and RPSEA in general can be found on the consortium’s Web site (www.rpsea.org).
The industry consortium approach will enhance the overall program in other ways as well. The companies, universities and organizations that receive funds through this program will provide cost-share contributions between 20% and 50% of total project costs, magnifying the impact of the public investment. The involvement of industry partners in all phases of the oil and gas R&D process will increase the likelihood of near-term demonstrations of technologies the program developed, a key step in accelerating the movement of these technologies into the marketplace.
RPSEA will be responsible for issuing open solicitations for the first round of R&D projects during FY07. These solicitations will be based on an annual plan submitted in draft form by RPSEA and finalized by DOE after consultation with DOE Advisory Committees established to provide comments on specific areas. The general areas of interest of these solicitations are 1) ultra-deepwater, 2) unconventional onshore and 3) small producers. A key responsibility of SCNGO will be to manage communications among RPSEA, DOE headquarters, the Advisory Committees and in-house NETL researchers. NETL will also have responsibility for communicating to internal and external stakeholders the plans, ongoing status and final project results for the entire program.