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Reducing Onshore Natural Gas and Oil Exploration and Production Impacts Using a Broad-Based Stakeholder Approach
Project Number
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The primary goal of this research project is to evaluate the oil and gas exploration and production (E&P) process, identify the issues that delay or curtail E&P activities, and identify and publicize practices that ultimately overcome issues that impede the development of new energy resources. A secondary goal is to advance the development of underdeveloped resources in specific basins through a “Basin Initiative Study” to stimulate more widespread awareness and development of domestic oil and gas resources.


Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), Oklahoma City, OK, 73105
ALL Consulting, Inc., Tulsa, OK
Brother’s & Company, Tulsa, OK
Penn State Cooperative Extension Service, State College, PA.
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK


In many instances, efforts to reduce environmental impacts resulting from E&P activities do not include input from landowners, ranchers, farmers, and other concerned citizens, and this lack of perspective can result in practices that ultimately do not achieve the desired outcome. This research effort strives to gain input from a broad variety of sources, including non-governmental organizations, local governmental bodies (e.g., conservation districts), farmers/ranchers, industry, state and federal agencies, and others.

Researchers will evaluate common practices key to advancing E&P development or that can most notably delay or curtail E&P activities. These practices include exploration/exploitation (e.g., seismic), development (e.g., installing gathering and flow lines), and reclamation activities. This project will produce a handbook that presents case studies of the issues that most significantly impede onshore E&P activities along with suggested approaches for mitigating their impacts. The researchers’ goal is to provide benefit analyses of various practices to serve as a starting point for choosing among alternative options and also to provide information for non-industry people to better understand the advantages and disadvantages of these practices.

New opportunities for states to support and encourage the efficient recovery of domestic oil and natural gas resources will be identified in the “Basin Initiative Study”. The effort will explore state initiatives and state-industry partnerships that address policy goals. Each work group will conduct an assessment of underdeveloped oil and gas resources and evaluate potential regional or basin-oriented strategies designed to increase U.S. oil and gas supplies and to accomplish regional economic and environmental goals while protecting health, safety, and the environment.


Publication of “Reducing Onshore Natural Gas and Oil Exploration Impacts Using a Broad-Based Stakeholder Approach” [PDF] addresses the key objective of this research, which is to overcome the issues that impede or delay E&P activities. Ultimately, this publication could lead to more effective and efficient production of domestic crude oil and natural gas and minimize unnecessary lawsuits and surface owner complaints.

Increasing oil and gas production in underdeveloped basins will result in significant economic gains due to job creation and an expanding regional tax base. The nation as a whole will benefit through reduced dependence on foreign oil and increased job creation for American workers.

Accomplishments (most recent listed first)

This project was conducted in two phases: The Basin Initiative Study and the Low Impact Natural Gas and Oil (LINGO) Study. Conclusions and recommendations resulting from both project phases can be found in the final project report [PDF].

Basin Initiative Study

The Basin Initiative Study examined undeveloped or underdeveloped oil and natural gas resources within regional or geologic basins to stimulate more widespread awareness and development of domestic resources. Researchers assessed multi-state basins, explored state initiatives and state-industry partnerships, and developed strategies to increase U.S. oil and gas supplies while accomplishing regional economic and environmental goals.

The IOGCC devised new and innovative solutions to provide fact-based information on efficient recovery of domestic shale gas. The Shale Gas Directors (SGD) work group conducted research, formulated technology transfer recommendations, and developed fact sheets for the IOGCC shale gas web site [external site] and distribution at conferences. A secondary message for every issue addressed was (1) improving public perception (affected and interested) and (2) environmental stewardship.

The IOGCC and the University of Oklahoma partnered to host the 2011 Woodford Summit: “National Impacts, Regional Opportunities”. The conference was attended by over 300 stakeholders and students. The Woodford Summit focused on shale gas development and broader energy policy topics. Conference sessions explored the importance of utilizing natural gas, demand-management, and efficiency as partners to develop renewable resources. As the nation moves towards incorporating renewable sources as part of its energy supply diversification, natural gas’s role will prove to be a key factor. Whether firming up wind and solar power or serving as the new fuel of choice for retired or outdated power generating plants, natural gas will prove to be crucial in meeting future energy demands.

The SGD identified challenges and opportunities and discussed possible projects for development. Directors shared best management practices, discussed current and future subprojects for development, and continued to work on planned activities. An essential role of the SGD was engaging the public in the importance of shale gas development. This was achieved by utilizing SGD expertise in speaking at gatherings at the local, state, and federal levels, and by the creation of the shale-gas section of the IOGCC website. The shale gas web site [external site] provides critical information on legislation, committees and work groups, regulations, states perspective, IOGCC in action, topic resources, IOGCC white papers, and the states progress.

The IOGCC found that infrastructure was a definite road block in shale gas development. The IOGCC indefinitely extended its Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to address issues facing the states as well as begin an outreach campaign to help stakeholders better understand FERC procedures.

Low Impact Natural Gas and Oil (LINGO)

The publication “Reducing Onshore Natural Gas and Oil Exploration Impacts Using a Broad-Based Stakeholder Approach” [PDF] identifies and explores, using new technology and creative thinking, three important environmental issues currently being addressed: (1) protecting landscapes and water bodies, (2) preserving air quality, and (3) safeguarding wildlife. This handbook summarizes solutions to the issues that most significantly impede or delay onshore exploration and production activities and outlines approaches to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate environmental impacts. This handbook will be useful to regulatory personnel and the regulated exploration and production community.

The publication “Stepping Lightly: Reducing the Environmental Impact of Oil and Natural Gas Production” [external site] is designed to share the results of the Adverse Impact Reduction Handbook and to promote the IOGCC’s continuing efforts to encourage collaboration among government agencies, energy producers, non-government organizations, and private citizens to protect our natural world while meeting the nation’s energy needs.

Current Status

(February 2012)
All project activities have been completed. The final report is listed below under "Additional Information".

Project Start
Project End
DOE Contribution


Performer Contribution


Contact Information

NETL – James Ammer ( or 304-285-4383)
IOGCC – Gerry Baker ( or 405-525-3556, ext. 112)
If you are unable to reach the above personnel, please contact the content manager.

Additional Information

Final Project Report [PDF-154KB]

Topical Report [PDF-1.49MB] - "The Basin Initiative Shale Gas Assessment: A Regulatory Perspective" - March, 2010

The Adverse Impact Reduction Handbook [PDF-4.08MB-lowres]. A hardcopy version of the handbook is available from the website of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, which prepared the document with ALL Consulting.

“Reducing Onshore Natural Gas and Oil Exploration Impacts Using a Broad-Based Stakeholder Approach” [PDF-4.07MB]