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Scientists from UW Carbon Management Institute to Speak at Chinese Conference

September 6, 2011

Scientists from the University of Wyoming's Carbon Management Institute (CMI) will present research on innovative techniques for identifying and exploring unconventional natural gas deposits at a conference in China beginning today (Tuesday).

CMI Director Ronald Surdam and CMI Chief Geologist Zunsheng Jiao will discuss the pioneering approach that facilitated the rediscovery and development of southwest Wyoming's Jonah Field and explain how they are modifying their techniques for shale gas exploration.

"Dr. Jiao and I have worked together on unconventional gas resources for more than 20 years," Surdam says. "Our contribution to the development of Jonah Field helped launch a new wave of interest in tight-gas sand exploration in the U.S. and elsewhere and, since then, we have successfully applied our techniques to more than 30 basins around the world."

Unconventional natural gas is usually more difficult and costly to recover, primarily because the technology required to do so has either not been adequately developed, or is expensive to employ. Examples of unconventional natural gas resources include coalbed natural gas (such as that found in northeast Wyoming's Powder River Basin), tight-sand gas (such as Jonah Field), and shale gas (such as the emerging gas play in southeast Wyoming's Niobrara Shale).

Both tight-sand gas and shale gas deposits lie in rock formations with low permeability, which restricts flow and makes the gas difficult to extract. Surdam and Jiao's  research has significantly reduced the risks associated with detecting and delineating gas production sweet spots in unconventional natural gas reservoirs.

Surdam and Jiao also have a history of collaboration with Chinese scientists and research institutions that spans decades: Surdam is an honorary/visiting professor at three Chinese universities (Nanjing University, Northwest University in Xian, and Xian Shiyou University), and both Surdam and Jiao are senior advisers to the Shaanxi Provincial Institute of Energy and Chemical Engineering.

Since its inception, the CMI has developed partnerships with Chinese researchers to facilitate successful geological CO₂ (carbon dioxide) sequestration in Wyoming and China. CMI is a founding member of the US-China Clean Energy Research Center's Advanced Coal Technology Consortium, a cooperative research and development effort between the United States and China funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the UW School of Energy Resources.

The institute also leads the Shaanxi Province/Wyoming State CCS Partnership, a DOE- and State-sponsored program designed to accelerate the deployment of CCS in both nations.

The Unconventional Natural Gas Workshop and Forum, sponsored by the Chinese Academy of Engineering, China National Petroleum Corporation, Chinese Petroleum Society and State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, is being held in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China.

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