April 18, 2019  

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USM Joins Consortium to Study Tuscaloosa Marine Shale

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The University of Southern Mississippi has joined a Department of Energy funded university consortium led by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette that will address knowledge gaps connected to the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale (TMS).

The goal of the three-year project is to enable more cost-efficient and environmentally sound recovery from this unconventional liquid-rich shale play. The Las Alamos National Lab, University of Oklahoma, and Missouri S&T are also participants in the consortium.

The TMS has been estimated to contain seven billion barrels of recoverable light, sweet crude oil, while its current total average production is only about 3,000 barrels of oil per day. Development of the shale in eastern Louisiana and southwestern Mississippi could significantly impact local communities economically.

While the other universities in the consortium will focus on oil and gas extraction engineering issues, USM will examine socio-economic issues related to increased hydraulic fracturing. Issues to be examined include supply chain, the oil and gas severance tax, workforce training programs, and business assistance and diversification programs needed for this cyclical industry.

“This is a great opportunity to combine our economic development expertise with some of nation’s top petroleum engineering researchers to make a difference for southwest Mississippi,” said Dr. Chad Miller, graduate coordinator of the Masters of Science of Economic Development program at USM. Miller will lead the USM research team housed within the University’s College of Business.

Grants distributed to the consortium are part of an initiative by the Energy Department’s Office of Fossil Energy to examine unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, such as the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale. The TMS covers eight million acres. It includes 28 parishes in central and south Louisiana, and several southwestern Mississippi counties.