The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory is part of a U.S.-Israeli research and industry partnership that was awarded $10.1 million over five years by the U.S.-Israel Energy Center to improve the safety, efficiency and sustainability of offshore natural gas production.
Tulane University and Hebrew University will direct the project, which will apply lessons learned from safety initiatives in the Gulf of Mexico to the Eastern Mediterranean. Researchers on the project will also help develop and deploy energy technologies.
The project, known as GoMed, is one of three U.S.-Israel Energy Center programs announced recently to enhance energy security in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The group will create new technologies and methods to:
- Explore and tap offshore natural gas fields.
- Convert natural gas to liquid fuel products such as methanol and benzene.
Argonne's role is to strengthen the safety of offshore natural gas operations with innovative methods to analyze risk, assess safety and manage processes.
"Argonne pioneered use of a safety evaluation technique called Success Path Analysis for offshore oil and gas operations," said Bruce Hamilton, who will lead Argonne's role and is also manager of the Global Energy Solutions group in the lab's Energy Systems division. "This approach leverages over 50 years of expertise in promoting nuclear industry safety but was adapted by Argonne to other industries."
Argonne engineers developed and tested this approach as part of a seven-year agreement between the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and DOE that included a range of technical assistance projects.
The GoMed program's goal, said Hamilton, is to:
- Build an effective risk-management tool by combining two approaches. The first approach stresses getting it right (Success Path Analysis); the second approach looks at all the things that could go wrong (Failure Model Effects Analysis).
- Secure approval of this new method by the International Organization for Standardization or other standards body.
- Create software to help the oil & gas industry use the approach worldwide.
- Expand use of this advanced risk-management tool in other high-risk industries (e.g., improving patient safety in health care industry).
This work will be part of four research areas identified by the consortium: offshore resource analyses and reservoir quality, production in offshore reservoirs, hazards to seafloor infrastructure, and upgrading natural gas from offshore reservoirs.
"We aim to create one-of-a-kind technologies that will allow industry to explore offshore natural gas reservoirs in a safe and sustainable manner, and develop new technologies for natural gas upgrading. We are thrilled to have Argonne participating with us in this very exciting effort," said Tulane University's Daniel Shantz, a lead principal investigator for the project.
The international partnership includes researchers from other universities, government agencies, and companies, including Louisiana University, Louisiana State University, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, the Israel Institute of Technology, the Geological Survey of Israel, and Delek Drilling.
A second U.S.-Israel Energy Center program will focus on developing water technology and includes Argonne's Seth Darling, director of the laboratory's Center for Molecular Engineering, and Aaron Packman, who directs Northwestern's Center for Water Research and has a joint appointment at Argonne. A third U.S.-Israel Energy Center program will address energy storage challenges. The U.S. Energy Center is managed by the Binational Industrial Research and Development Foundation.
Each U.S.-Israel Energy Center award is partly funded by DOE's Office of International Affairs, Israel's Ministry of Energy, and Israel's Innovation Authority.
Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation's first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America's scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.
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