Unconventional Resources - Field Laboratories
Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) Last Reviewed May 2016


The goal of the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory (MSEEL) is to provide a long-term field site to develop and validate new knowledge and technology to improve recovery efficiency and minimize environmental implications of unconventional resource development.

West Virginia University, Northeast Natural Energy and The Ohio State University

West Virginia University and The Ohio State University have formed a consortium of university researchers to develop a research program focused on a dedicated field site and laboratory at the Northeast Natural Energy (NNE) production site in the center of the Marcellus Shale unconventional production region of north-central West Virginia.

The MSEEL project will provide a long-term field site at NNE’s Morgantown Industrial Park (MIP) just outside of Morgantown, West Virginia.  The site provides a well-documented baseline of production and environmental characterization from two previous wells. A dedicated scientific observation well will be used to collect detailed subsurface data and to monitor and test technologies in additional production wells that will be drilled periodically over the lifetime of the project. The MSEEL site is expected to undergo multiple drilling events (separated by periods sufficient to analyze data) over the course of the five-year project, providing the ideal testing conditions for researchers. MSEEL will use the latest information technology to enable a broad, integrated program of open, collaborative science and technology development and testing. The initial project plan provides for the collection of samples and data and/or the testing and demonstration of advanced technologies, but the phased approach is flexible enough to incorporate new technology and science. 

Research to be performed at the MSEEL site includes:

  • Development of integrated data acquisition and modeling approaches for reservoir-scale simulations based on geophysical data, image logs, and lithology.
  • Scrutinizing petrophysical, reservoir, and production data to establish the effectiveness of geologic versus geometric-based fracture stage design. Evaluating innovative stage spacing and cluster density practices to optimize recovery efficiency.
  • Data driven integration of geophysical, fluid flow, and mechanical properties logs and microseismic and core data to better to characterize subsurface rock properties, faults, and fracture systems to better understand the extent of the stimulated reservoir volume in unconventional reservoirs.
  • Matching reservoir lithology and fracture-fluid types to understand the long-term interaction of fluids and gases with reservoir rock.
picture of Northeast Natural Energy Morgantown Industrial Park site
Northeast Natural Energy Morgantown Industrial Park site during the stimulation of the MIP 5 production well.

The MSEEL site will provide a well-documented baseline of reservoir and environmental characterization. Access to multiple Marcellus wells separated by time-periods sufficient to analyze data will allow for both the collection of samples and data and the testing and demonstration of advanced technologies. The project’s phased approach has the flexibility to identify and incorporate new, cost-effective technology and science focused on increasing recovery efficiency and reducing environmental and societal impacts.


  • NNE began drilling two production wells (MIP 3H and 5H) in late June 2015. The 3H well was used to obtain 111 feet of 4-inch whole core through the entire Marcellus Formation as well more than 50 1.5-inch sidewall cores which will be used by researchers to conduct geochemical, microbiological, and geomechanical investigations. This same well was instrumented with fiber optic cable for distributed acoustic and temperature measurements throughout the full lateral length. The dedicated vertical science well, situated between the two horizontal production wells, was drilled and logged and approximately 150 additional 1-inch sidewall cores were obtained. The science well was instrumented with borehole microseismic and will be used to gather valuable information to assist with optimizing lateral well placement and hydraulic fracture design during well stimulation in the Marcellus Shale in early fiscal year 2016. Key operational activities completed in 2015 include:
    • 5H top hole spud on June 28, 2015, drilled on air to 6500 feet, completed July 6, 2015.
    • 3H top hole spud on July 6, 2015, drilled on air to 6923 feet, completed on July 15, 2015.
    • 3H whole and 1.5-inch sidewall cores were taken and vertical well was logged, completed August 26, 2015.
    • 5H curve and lateral completed on September 18, 2015, to a total measured depth of 14,554 feet.
    • 3H curve and lateral completed October 3, 2015, to a total measured depth of 14,554 feet. The 3H lateral was fully logged and fiber-optic cable was run downhole with casing.
    • Science well spud September 12, 2015, and completed September 28, 2015. 1-inch sidewall cores were taken and the well was logged.
    • Completion and stimulation on the MIP5H with 30 stages was completed on November 6, 2015.
    • Completion and stimulation on the MIP3H with 28 engineered stages of variable cluster design was completed on November 15, 2015.
    • Fiber-optic cable for monitoring of acoustic and temperature during stimulation and production was installed in the MIP 3H.
    • The SW well was used for microseismic monitoring during stimulation.
    • Surface seismic array was installed and used to monitor stimulation.
    • Production started on December 10, 2015, and is being monitored with fiber-optic cable.
  • Core Analysis
    • 111 feet of whole round 4-inch vertical core from the 3H well; through the entirety of the Marcellus.
    • Sidewall cores – 50 from 3H.
    • Sidewall cores – 147 from SW (50 set aside for SubTER).
    • Terratek logged and split (2/3-1/3) vertical core; 30 core plugs extracted (~ every 3 feet).
    • NETL Core lithological description and imaging (multi-sensor core logger and medical computed tomography scanner).
  • Baseline noise, air and surface water data has been collected, and monitoring activities continue as operations are underway.
  • The MSEEL web application and data portal has been developed and is online at http://mseel.org.