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WVU sees increase in petroleum engineering students

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At West Virginia University, the engineering school has continued to see a significant increase in its oil and gas program.

The program is offered to undergraduate students, graduate students and Ph.D. students.

Based on the projected fall 2013 enrollment, the majority of students will be part of the undergraduate program, with an estimated 276 students. There will be an estimated 45 graduate students and an estimated 14 Ph.D. students.

Mary Dillon, coordinator of marketing and communications at the Benjamin M. Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, said the increase in student enrollment has raised the bar for those students looking to enter the program.

"It is going to be very competitive," Dillon said.

A cap will be put on the number of undergraduate students based on cumulative GPA, Dillon said.

The program performs a large amount of research, particularly concerning the Marcellus Shale.

According to the program's website, research is vital in understanding and unlocking the Marcellus shale's natural gas reservoirs.

Sam Ameri, chair of the WVU Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering, stated on the web site that "with innovative breakthroughs in fracturing and drilling technology, massive homegrown natural gas reserves can be brought to the surface."

To conduct research at the maximum level, the program houses the Marcellus Shale Laboratory that is run by Ameri and Khashayar Aminian. The laboratory has computer equipment that measures the petro physical properties of shale, that is, the physical properties and behavior of rocks.

According to the department's website, "major research emphasis [is] placed on natural gas production and transportation, as well as environmental protection and remediation."

Research projects cover a wide array of aspects dealing with oil and gas production, as well as extraction and include drilling engineering, formation evaluation, natural gas engineering, production engineering and reservoir engineering.

In the drilling and engineering research project, horizontal drilling, as well as drilling fluids, is covered.

Surveys, gas storage deliverability, modeling of gas storage performance and detection of natural gas pipeline leaks are explored and researched in the natural gas engineering projects.

Research projects involving reservoir engineering are also conducted. Through the projects, secondary and enhanced oil recovery, reservoir characterization and modeling, and improving recovery efficiency from low permeability formations are issues that have been explored.

For the upcoming school year, an assistant professor has been hired and a search for additional staff is being conducted.

Through the program and its emphasis on research, the Department of Petroleum and Natural Gas Engineering continues to "foster continued progress in science and technology development for finding and extracting recoverable oil and natural gas resources," the website says.