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WVU professors to present at 2017 Shale Insight Conference

West Virginia University professors Paul Ziemkiewicz, Shikha Sharma and Tim Carr will present research on technology in the shale industry at the Shale Insight Conference on Wednesday, Sept. 27 in Pittsburgh, Pa. 

Paul Ziemkiewicz
Paul Ziemkiewicz

Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute and adjunct instructor in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, will give the technology showcase’s keynote address about the role of technology in the industry and how new technologies are meeting the constant demand of enhanced productivity and environmental compliance. 

He will discuss the Institute’s work on produced water and solid waste from unconventional oil and gas production and present the results of a two-year test of injected water chemistry and water production.

“After 500 days of observation, we found that less than five percent of the injected water returned to the surface,” Ziemkiewicz said. “The rest absorbed to clays in the formation.”

Shikha Sharma
Shikha Sharma

Sharma, associate chair and associate professor of geology and director of the WVU Stable Isotope Laboratory, will present information about the micro biogeochemical reactions that occur in shale formations after introduction of hydraulic fracturing fluids.

“It is very important to understand these reactions because microbial activity within a natural gas reservoir can be detrimental or beneficial depending on the nature of the microbes present,” Sharma said. 

She will also discuss the geochemical and genomic tools used to understand these interactions.  

“Before we can understand biocides that can effectively control or destroy microbial populations, it is important to know which microbes are living there, where they are coming from and how they are surviving at such high pressures, temperatures and salinities,” Sharma said. 

Tim Carr
Tim Carr

Carr, chair of the Department of Geology and Geography and Marshall Miller Professor of Energy, will also share results from the WVU Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory’s work on understanding the significance of healed fractures to completion efficiency by integrating technology.

“My hope is for the audience to learn the importance of understanding geomechanics and pre-existing fractures in improving completion efficiency, as well as how we have improved drilling and completion since the first wells were in place in 2011,” Carr said.

The Shale Insight Conference serves as an annual platform for geology and geography experts to gather and discuss the latest news on shale development while networking with leaders in the field.

“The conference allows us to create relationships with the industry, collect data and conduct research,” Carr said. “It could even help with the job placement of our students after graduating.”