Exploration and Production Technologies
Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas & Other Petroleum Resources Program Consortium Last Reviewed 12/9/2014

DE-AC26-07NT42677

Goal 
The goal is to maximize the value of indigenous U.S. natural gas and other petroleum resources with a focus on near-to-mid-term results. Priority resources to be addressed include ultra-deepwater natural gas and onshore unconventional natural gas (tight gas sands, gas shales, and coalbed methane), which have been identified by the National Petroleum Council (NPC) and others as strategic areas for future natural gas supplies. The program will increase the supply of these resources by implementing a research program to reduce recovery costs and increase the efficiency of exploration and production (E&P) while improving safety and minimizing environmental impacts. An additional goal is to provide small producers with the tools necessary to develop natural gas and other petroleum resources and the knowledge base to effectively increase production and resource recovery.

Performer
Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA), Sugar Land, TX 77478

Background
In August 2005, President Bush signed the Energy Policy Act (EPAct) (the first national energy plan in more than a decade) into law. EPAct Sections 965, 968, and 999 all support oil and gas R&D. The first two of these sections relate to programs that DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) are already implementing. Section 999, however, adds a new dimension to the overall DOE oil and gas R&D effort that involves enhancing opportunities to demonstrate technologies in the field and accelerating their implementation in the marketplace.

The Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program launched by Section 999 is a public/private partnership designed to increase America’s domestic oil and gas supply and reduce dependency on imports. A portion of the funding is directed toward cost-shared research partnerships, while another portion will be used by NETL to carry out complementary R&D.

Section 999 sets the funding for this program at a level of $50 million per year over 10 years, provided from federal lease royalties, rents, and bonuses paid by oil and gas companies. The funds are directed specifically towards research targeting four areas: ultra-deepwater resources (35%), unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resources (32.5%), technology challenges of small producers (7.5%), and fundamental research complementary to these areas (25%). The complementary research will be performed by NETL, while all other research will be administered by the consortium overseen by NETL. Each year, RPSEA will develop and submit to DOE a draft Annual Plan, which will be used to develop the DOE Annual Plan for Section 999.

Impact
The program will increase the supply of ultra-deepwater oil and natural gas and onshore unconventional natural gas (tight gas sands, gas shales, and coalbed methane) through research to reduce recovery costs and increase the efficiency of E&P while improving safety and minimizing environmental impacts. It will also provide small producers with the tools needed to develop natural gas and other petroleum resources and the knowledge base to effectively increase production and resource recovery.

Accomplishments
Each year since 2007, annual plans for the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Program have been submitted for review and comment by two federal advisory committees: the Ultra-Deepwater Advisory Committee and Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee. Once approved, the plans are submitted to Congress and published in the Federal Register. Copies of the annual approved plans can be found on the RPSEA website [external site]. Program funds are granted by Congress and released to DOE. RPSEA releases solicitations and awards projects in these areas based on the annual level of funding. A listing of awarded projects can be found on the RPSEA website. The number of annual awarded projects per research area since 2007 is displayed in the following chart: 

Research Area/Plan Year 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Small Producers Program 7 6 6 2 9 3
Unconventional Resources Program 19 9 10 8 14 4
Ultra-Deepwater Program 16 14 11 19 6 8
Totals 42 29 27 29 29 15

 

A total of 171 projects were awarded under this program. Ninety-two projects were completed as of October 31, 2014.  Results for the completed projects can be found in their final reports posted on the RPSEA website at www.rpsea.org.

Current Status (December 2014) 
The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013, which was signed on December 26, 2013, repealed the Section 999 program. DOE and RPSEA developed and implemented a plan that transfers the administrative and project management responsibilities of projects that will be active after December 31, 2014, to DOE/NETL. Sixty-five projects have been transferred to DOE. DOE will manage the projects to completion during or before September 2016. R&D project awardees will have three months following the completion of their respective projects to complete and submit their final reports.  RPSEA will continue to maintain technical oversight of all projects.  

Project Start: January 4, 2007
Project End: January 3, 2017

DOE Contribution: $251,212,500
Performer Contribution: $57,579,104 (based on minimum 20% cost share for R&D)

Contact Information
NETL – Gary Covatch (gary.covatch@netl.doe.gov or 304-285-4589)
RPSEA – James Pappas (jpappas@rpsea.org or 281-690-5511)

Additional information:

2012 Annual Plan [PDF]

2011 Annual Plan [PDF]

2010 Annual Plan [PDF]

2009 Annual Plan [PDF]

2008 Annual Plan [PDF]

2007 Annual Plan [PDF]


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