Ongoing R&D for Shale Mining Byproducts May Open New Opportunities for Midstream Businesses
The School of Mines and Technology was granted $464,000 to learn more about how Pierre Shale responds under different circumstances and how it changes over time. The end goal is to better understand how shale behaves to perfect mining practices, primarily in the in the upstream and midstream sectors. Ongoing research and development is intended to help pinpoint how useful byproducts can be captured, stored, and shipped.
Potential Areas of Interest in the Future of Shale Mining
A few specific areas of interest include hydraulic fracturing, fuel and waste disposal methods, carbon dioxide sequestration, and underground storage of hydrocarbons in existing shale caverns. Shale is currently one of the choice materials used to store products because it does not allow products to easily escape.
Could Gas From North Dakota Flaring Off Eventually Be Shipped?
There are many questions that will not be answered for a while, and research efforts are starting to get underway. Currently, potentially useful byproducts from mining sites are essentially wasted. Ongoing funds for research and development can lead to new techniques and superior understanding of the entire mining process, including shipping and storage.
The midstream sector is an integral part of virtually any crude oil and gas mining operation, and effective methods for storage are integral for putting byproducts to good use. In the meantime, research is in its beginning stages. Before researches can develop real solutions, basic properties of shale need to be fully understood.
Research in Hopes of Lasting Returns
Somewhat obscure research can eventually result in more profitable mining systems for all sectors in the United States. Funding is one of the first steps to further understanding how to best solve numerous challenges that shale mining can solve in the foreseeable future, from funding communities without existing industry to solving existing clean energy challenges.
Various research initiatives are intended to help solve energy issues from a multifaceted standpoint. Upstream and downstream energy businesses can benefit from new methods that work. It is practical to conceptualize research funding as analogous to the process from which crude oil and natural gas gets from the mine to the end user.
A Logical Analogy for Starting R&D With Shale Behavior and Deformation
First, mining equipment has to be in place, and raw product has to be produced in upstream business. Midstream business takes the product to the end user, and downstream business refines the end product for the user. Similarly, research initiatives have to start upstream with basic goals such as understanding how different properties of shale work and behave, move on to how to store and transport byproducts that are currently wasted, and finally develop practical uses for end users.
Sustainable Research for a Sustainable and Dynamic Domestic Industry
The end result of research in geology as it pertains to mining and new mining methodology is a ways off. However, the first step to fine tuning a relatively new and thriving domestic industry is continual knowledge, public acknowledgment, and funding. The United States is bouncing back from the Great Recession, and ongoing research and development can help ensure that the midstream sector continues to grow within the greater crude oil and natural gas mining industry.