America¿s abundant unconventional oil and natural gas (UOG) resources, which include natural gas and oil contained in shale or other low permeability geological formations, are critical components of our nation¿s energy portfolio. UOG development can enhance America¿s energy security and create significant income, employment, and other economic benefits that are crucial to the United States (U.S.) economy.
In April 2012, the President issued an Executive Order which established a Multiagency Working Group to Support Safe and Responsible Development of Unconventional Domestic Natural Gas Resources (Executive Order, 2012). Since a large body of the UOG federal research activities and expertise is held by the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Interior (DOI), and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (the Agencies), these Agencies signed a multiagency memorandum of agreement pledging to develop a focused, collaborative research effort to address high-priority challenges in safe and prudent development of UOG resources (Multiagency, 2012). The primary goal of this multiagency research effort is to provide timely science and tools that support sound policy, allow for informed UOG resource development decisions at many levels ¿federal, state, tribal, and local; industry; and the public, and to advance technologies that will maximize benefits to the nation. With this in mind the following topic areas have been developed which have historically, and are currently, focus areas of research under Fossil Energy¿s Oil & Natural Gas Program.