Abstract: Over the past decade, the proven ability to produce large quantities of natural gas from organic-rich shale formations in North America has shown the potential to change the energy picture in many parts of the world. Over the past five years there have been discoveries of large natural gas fields in the eastern Mediterranean and off the east coast of Africa. These enormous resources have the potential to dramatically change the global energy system – for better, or for worse. In this talk I will discuss steps that can be taken to assure that natural gas resources are developed in an optimally efficient and environmentally responsible manner. Responsible development of shale gas resources using horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing has the potential to substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions and, in the near term, significantly reduce air pollution in many cities in the developing world. I will discuss several on-going research projects investigating the wide variety of factors affecting successful gas production from these extremely low permeability formations and procedures for managing the risks of earthquakes triggered by injection of hydraulic fracturing waste water.
About the Speaker: Dr. Mark D. Zoback is the Benjamin M. Page Professor of Geophysics at Stanford University and Director of the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative. Dr. Zoback conducts research on in situ stress, fault mechanics, and reservoir geomechanics with an emphasis on shale gas, tight gas and tight oil production. He currently directs the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative and is co-director of the Stanford Center on Induced and Triggered Seismicity. He is the author of a textbook entitled Reservoir Geomechanics published in 2007 by Cambridge University Press and the author/co-author of over 300 technical papers. Dr. Zoback was the founder of GeoMechanics International, a software and consulting company that was acquired by Baker Hughes in 2008. Dr. Zoback has received a number of awards and honors, including the 2006 Emil Wiechert Medal of the German Geophysical Society and the 2008 Walter H. Bucher Medal of the American Geophysical Union. In 2011, he was elected to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and in 2012 elected to Honorary Membership in the Society of Exploration Geophysicists. He is the 2013 recipient of the Louis Néel Medal of the European Geosciences Union and named an Einstein Chair Professor of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. In 2015 he received the Robert R. Berg Outstanding Research Award of the AAPG 2016 received the American Geosciences Institute Award for Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of Geosciences. He served on the National Academy of Engineering committee investigating the Deepwater Horizon accident and the Secretary of Energy’s committee on shale gas development and environmental protection. He also advised a Canadian Council of Academies panel investigating the same topic and served on the National Academy of Sciences Advisory Board on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.