Mapping Project Aimed at Reducing Damage Caused by Gas Wells

LITTLE ROCK, AR - A research team at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville is developing an Internet model to help natural gas companies to locate wells where they will do the least amount of environmental damage.

Chemical engineering professor Greg Thomas, who heads the team that is working with the Argonne National Laboratory outside Chicago, says the group is building three-dimensional maps of the Fayetteville Shale play in Arkansas.  He said workers also are gathering information from state and federal agencies for a database that includes environmental features and archeologically sensitive sites.

Once completed, Thomas says the Web-based tool can be used to identify drilling sites away from sensitive areas.

Energy companies are in the early years of plumbing the Fayetteville Shale in north-central Arkansas, a 300 million-year-old depost expected to enrich the state and provide a much-needed addition to the country's sources of domestic energy.  Currently, about 2 million acres are under lease in the shale.

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