Oil and gas well completion and stimulation technologies to develop unconventional hydrocarbon resources in the United States have evolved over the past several decades, particularly in relation to the development of shale oil and shale gas.
Shale oil and shale gas resources and the technology associated with their production are often termed aEURO unconventionalaEURO because the oil and gas trapped inside the shale or other low-permeability rock formation cannot be extracted using conventional technologies. Since about 2005, the application of these technologies to fields in the U.S. have helped produce natural gas and oil in volumes that allowed the country to reduce its crude oil imports by more than 50% and to become a net natural gas exporter. The regional and national economic and energy advances gained through production and use of these resources have been accompanied, however, by rapid expansion of the infrastructure associated with the development of these fields and public concern over the impacts to surface- and groundwater, air, land, and communities where the resources are extracted. The intent of the first day of the workshop of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and MedicineaEURO (TM)s Roundtable on Unconventional Hydrocarbon Development was to discuss onshore unconventional hydrocarbon development in the context of potential environmental impacts and the ways in which the risks of these kinds of impacts can be managed. Specifically, the workshop sought to examine the lifecycle development of these fields, including decommissioning and reclamation of wells and related surface and pipeline infrastructure, and the approaches from industry practice, scientific research, and regulation that could help to ensure management of the operations in ways that minimize impacts to the environment throughout their active lifetimes and after operations have ceased. This publication summarizes the presentations and discussions from the workshop.