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Field Laboratory for Emerging Stacked Unconventional Plays
The goal of ESUP is to investigate and characterize the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional gas reservoirs in Central Appalachia.



June 30, 2020
Photos provided by Brad Deel, EnerVest Operating, LLC.

The VCCER Field Laboratory at Virginia Tech Takes First Steps in Developing New Energy Resources in Central Appalachia

April 28, 2020
The Central Appalachian region is known for hydrocarbon resources such as coal, but it is also host to abundant unconventional gas resources, such as coalbed methane, shale gas, and other tight gas formations. Many of these gas resources, at depths of up to 15,000 feet, are vertically stacked such that a single well or group of wells could produce simultaneously from multiple reservoirs. While many of the shallower reservoirs produce at relatively low production rates, the deeper formations, referred to as emerging plays, remain largely untested.

A group of academic and industry experts, including the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research (VCCER) at Virginia Tech and EnerVest Operating, LLC, believe that these emerging plays offer the potential for increased hydrocarbon resources for the state and nation, and that their development could provide a critical economic transformation to a region transitioning from coal mining.

DOE Award Announcement:

Department of Energy to Invest $30 Million to Boost Unconventional Oil and Natural Gas Recovery


Technology Leads The 2019 SWVA Economic Forum

May 15, 2019 – The University of Virginia’s College at Wise, Wise, VA

VCCER SWVA sponsor
The VCCER is proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the 2019 SWVA Economic Forum at The University Virginia’s College at Wise on May 15.
Nino Ripepi
Nino Ripepi, ESUP project principal investigator discusses the project with an attendee.
ESUP Presentation
Interested stakeholders picked up ESUP Info sheets and signed up for the ESUP newsletter
Info sheet
ESUP Info sheet

Virginia Coal and Energy Alliance 40th Annual Meeting

May 20-21, 2019 – Kinsgport, TN
Visit the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research booth to learn more about ESUP


Project Description

The goal of this project is to investigate and characterize the resource potential for multi-play production of emerging unconventional reservoirs in the Nora Gas Field of southwest Virginia and evaluate and quantify the benefits of novel completion strategies for lateral wells in the unconventional Lower Huron Shale. A major research objective of the project is to characterize the geology and potential deep pay zones of Cambrian-age formations in Central Appalachia by drilling, logging, and coring a deep vertical test well up to 15,000 feet. A second major research objective is to evaluate and quantify the potential benefits of novel well completion strategies by monitoring the drilling and completion of at least one multi-stage lateral well in the emerging (and technologically accessible) Lower Huron Shale.

ESUP well-graph

Project Benefits

This research will improve understanding of the geology and resource potential of the Cambrian Rogersville Shale and produce research-driven and industry-proven best practices to prudently develop these resources. The geology and extent of the Rogersville shale south of the Rome Trough is poorly understood and requires a characterization effort that is best accomplished through a deep vertical stratigraphic test in southwest Virginia. This research well of opportunity will provide a wealth of insight into the geologic history of the Central Appalachian region and particularly the ESUPs that comprise the Nora and Big Sandy fields of Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.

Project Timeline

BP = Budget Period/Phase