Shale Gas and Shale Oil, In Depth

Experts discuss shale technologies and economics at AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety in New Orleans
March 29, 2014

NEW ORLEANS – The significant economic opportunities — and the engineering challenges — presented by the extraction and handling of shale reserves, will by explored in depth at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers’ (AIChE’s) 2014 Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety at the Hilton New Orleans – Riverside from March 30 to April 3. There, more than three-dozen presentations will be devoted to shale gas and shale oil (also known as tight oil), along with the engineering and business opportunities that these new supplies of petrochemical resources are creating in the U.S. and beyond. 

One session, “Shale Gas and Tight Oil Challenges and Opportunities,” on Tuesday, April 1, will offer an orientation to the shale revolution, particularly as it impacts industries in North America. Sharon Robinson (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and R. Bruce Eldridge (The University of Texas at Austin) will discuss how engineers’ ability to tap into previously unreachable shale gas resources using a combination of hydraulic fracturing (or “fracking”) technologies and horizontal drilling has increased U.S. natural gas production by 25% in the last five years. This abundance of hydrocarbon raw materials points to a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S., with new energy and petrochemicals markets and an expanding workforce of engineers, technology experts, construction contractors, and others working in business and industry.

The “Challenges and Opportunities” session will also focus on specific facets of the shale story, including:

  • “Shale Gas: A New Era of Technology for the Petrochemicals Industry” — which will discuss how new developments in shale gas have impacted the chemicals industries in the U.S., including new demand for petrochemical products such as ethylene, methanol, butane, and related petrochemical derivatives.
  • “Shale Gas: A New Era for the Refining Industry” — which will examine some of the projects taking place at U.S. refineries, some of which are expanding their capacities or revamping technologies to capitalize on the availability of new crude oil reserves.
  • “Economically Treating Sour Gas from Tight Oil Formations” — which looks at an approach to remove sulfur from extracted shale gas, to make the resources suitable for piping.

Kicking off AIChE’s shale programming, on April 1, is a panel discussion devoted to the rapid growth and development of shale gas and tight oil in the U.S. The panel of industry experts will also discuss the process safety considerations and challenges involved in the safe extraction and processing of shale resources.

The AIChE Spring Meeting and Global Congress on Process Safety consists of 150 sessions across eight topical conferences and special program tracks, and is expected to draw more than 2,400 practitioners from 50 countries. For more information about the conference or related workshops and meetings, please go to:

Editor’s Note:

Journalists interested in covering the conference should contact Danielle Gross at

AIChE is a professional society of more than 45,000 chemical engineers in 100 countries. Its members work in corporations, universities and government using their knowledge of chemical processes to develop safe and useful products for the benefit of society. Through its varied programs, AIChE continues to be a focal point for information exchange on the frontiers of chemical engineering research in such areas as energy, sustainability, biological and environmental engineering, nanotechnology and chemical plant safety and security. More information about AIChE is available at