​Unlocking the Potential of Unconventional Gas

The successful extraction of gas from the Barnett Shale formation in Texas in the 1990s by George Mitchell (known as the father of​ the Barnett Shale)—considered to be the event that kicked off the U.S. shale gas revolution—was enabled by the first successful application of horizontal drilling, microseismic imaging, and hydraulic fracturing. GTI played a key role in developing those hydraulic fracturing and microseismic technologies that are widely used to this day.

Much innovation in unconventional gas has stemmed from public-private research and commercialization efforts on key gas recovery techniques. Significant investments were made by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and Gas Technology Institute (GTI)—then known as Gas Research Institute (GRI)—that were able to dramatically improve production results. In the early 1980s, GTI launched a new collaborative research model that brought together a world-class team of experts from industry and academia. Together, the DOE/GTI R&D programs became a catalyst for experimentation and new technology development.

This early research work by DOE and GTI were critical elements in unlocking the vast potential of America’s “new” natural gas, providing the world with a promising new energy future. This collaborative model has been proven successful in field programs that explored coalbed methane, gas shale, and tight sands, and has led to significant advances in best practices, processes, and procedures. Consider this: In 1990, unconventional gas accounted for approximately 10 percent of total production. In 2012, it accounts for nearly 60 percent of total production, with gas shales driving this growth.​

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