Ohio State creates new Center for Subsurface Energy

News Release Date: 
09.23.11

In response to the growing need for an educational and research source for issues related to Ohio’s developing shale energy industry, The Ohio State University announced today the creation of the Ohio State Subsurface Energy Resource Center (SERC). The center, with faculty experts in the areas of economics, law and policy; earth science; engineering; energy and environmental science; extension and community development; and public health, will conduct relevant research and serve as a resource to subsurface energy stakeholders.

The center was established in response to recent technical advances that are leading to the expansion of horizontal drilling for hydrocarbon-bearing shale and other resources across Ohio. As one of the nation's largest research universities and the state's land-grant institution, Ohio State has a wealth of expertise to contribute to subsurface energy development and its associated environmental issues, as well as a responsibility to serve as a resource to policy makers.

"The creation of the Subsurface Energy Resource Center leverages the considerable expertise of Ohio State to provide a solid foundation for energy research and partnerships throughout Ohio," said President E. Gordon Gee. "It draws upon a strong base of both excellence in environmental and energy research and commitment to partnering for Ohio's future. Together, we can develop as a comprehensive resource for policymakers, companies, and citizens."

SERC will ensure that Ohio State is a key participant in forums and decision making groups on energy and environmental issues related to subsurface development. Under the leadership of Ron Sega, vice president and enterprise executive for energy and the environment, SERC will work across Ohio State to help facilitate opportunities for Ohio State researchers and organized groups to work on major proposal development opportunities.

"Ohio has an important opportunity to examine and research the potential for shale energy within our state and region," said Sega. "Ohio State University is eager to add to the body of knowledge surrounding shale energy through the Subsurface Energy Resource, and our experts in subsurface geology and engineering, public policy, community affairs and public health will provide a valuable resource to the state as this issue develops."

SERC will be led by co-directors Jeffrey Daniels, professor in the School of Earth Sciences, and Douglas Southgate, professor in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics. Daniels is a geophysicist with extensive exploration experience utilizing seismic, petrophysical measurements and borehole geophysics, and currently works to characterize reservoir and cap rock (shale) in Ohio for CO2 sequestration potential, a project that has implications for gas shale as well as CO2 storage. Southgate is an economist who specializes in natural resource development. He has studied petroleum development in South America and is currently contributing to an assessment of the impacts on Ohio’s economy of extracting fossil fuels from shale formations in the state. A multidisciplinary coordinating committee comprised of faculty and staff experts in engineering and public health will provide additional oversight and strategic direction for the center.


In order to promote technological improvement and address environmental and other issues related to energy resource development, the primary functions of SERC will be to:

* facilitate communication and collaboration between faculty educators and researchers within Ohio State

* provide a communication link among industry, government agencies, NGOs and universities throughout the state

* provide a forum to facilitate discussion of energy and environmental issues related to subsurface resource development

Shale development will be the near-term primary focus of SERC, but other energy resources will also be addressed as opportunities and needs arise. The existing Shale Energy Education Work Group formed by Ohio State Extension will continue its current operation and serve as the primary entity to coordinate public outreach and education. Ohio State Extension educators have conducted 39 shale energy related education programs to date, reaching 4,318 participants throughout Ohio.