Logo: University of Southern California

ECA Will Fund Gas Shale Research at Viterbi School

Grant will develop tools to enhance recovery of a valuable but elusive resource
Eric Mankin
August 28, 2008 —
A grant from Energy Corporation of America (ECA) will initiate a research effort at the University of Southern California Viterbi School of Engineering on better ways to extract natural gas from "tight" shales.

Kristian Jessen, an assistant professor at the Viterbi School’s Mork Family Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering will be lead researcher on the project, according to Viterbi Dean Yannis Yortsos, who made the announcement.

“Gas shale has been a promising but frustrating energy source for decades,” Yortsos says. “We have the resources to attack the problem, and look forward to doing so.”

Denver-based ECA has long been at the forefront of continuing efforts to find more effective ways to extract the natural gas contained in low permeability ("tight") reservoirs in shale rock, one of several ‘unconventional” sources of natural gas.

The plan is that the advanced analytical work proposed will lead to improved imaging and modeling of the gas resources, and increase the productivity and recovery from the such reservoirs.

“USC researchers will be taking a fresh look at resolving the complex nature of these rocks,” said John Mork, who serves as CEO of ECA, which owns and operates more than 5,000 gas and oil wells in the United States. "We look forward to sharing our knowledge and benefiting from the fundamental understandings that MFD researchers will develop from their studies,"

Besides Jessen, co-principal investigators of the Viterbi work will be Professors Theo Tsotsis, Don Zhang, and Iraj Ershaghi, all of the Mork Family Department of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering.  The project is scheduled to begin September 1.