As the industry continues to grow, it’s important that local and state governments maintain their capacity for appropriate oversight and regulation. A continued focus on safe operations – from both industry and government – will allow Americans to keep benefiting from the jobs and revenue created by development of this lower-emission fuel source.
That’s the idea behind a noteworthy new training initiative announced yesterday by several leading American universities to ensure that regulators and other officials have access to the latest technology and operational expertise to assist in these important oversight duties.
The three schools leading this effort – Colorado School of Mines, Penn State University, and the University of Texas at Austin – are located near some of the most dynamic areas of shale gas activity in the United States. And with some of the top faculty and researchers who specialize in the field, these institutions are ideally situated to create rigorous training programs that can help ensure continued safe production in the rapidly growing shale development sector.
As the nation’s largest producer of natural gas, ExxonMobil is teaming with General Electric to help support this new educational initiative. Each company will contribute $1 million to get this project off the ground.
“ExxonMobil is pleased to provide the resources to assist the schools in equipping regulators with the latest technical and operational knowledge being applied in this growing sector,” ExxonMobil’s Chairman and CEO Rex Tillerson said in support of the effort.
The series of courses offered by these three top academic institutions will focus on petroleum geology and technology (conventional as well as unconventional), particularly safe drilling and well design principles. They will also assist in understanding environmental management technologies and practices that cover everything from spill prevention to water treatment and air emission control. And they will provide expert instruction on federal and state oil and gas regulatory requirements, including permitting, reporting and compliance assessment.
We are partnering with GE to support these endeavors because both corporations understand the critical role that natural gas must play in America’s energy future. Two salient facts bear repeating. The first is that natural gas emits up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide than coal when used for power generation. The second is that recent technological innovations have opened up a century’s worth of natural gas for the United States.
Those points are good news for the environment, for the economy, and for Americans’ energy security.
That’s why it’s imperative for the industry, policymakers and regulators to continue to work together on producing these resources safely and efficiently.