Press Releases

HARC receives grant from Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation to develop interactive well pad site

Posting Date: 
Monday, June 22, 2015

Website to share environmentally friendly practices associated with oil and gas development

THE WOODLANDS, Texas ― June 22, 2015 ―Many people have never been on and may never have the opportunity to visit an active drilling or hydraulic fracturing site. Now, anyone with a computer can explore oil and gas development activities and encounter the numerous best practices and technologies industry can employ in order to develop reserves with less impact on the environment and communities.

The Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program, managed by HARC (the Houston Advanced Research Center), released the EFD Virtual Site in 2012, featuring an interactive Virtual Drilling Rig. In 2014, a Virtual Hydraulic Fracturing Site was launched. This free educational tool was built using gaming software in order to interactively engage current and future energy employees, geologists, and environmental specialists, promoting environmental stewardship to all stakeholders.

Now, the EFD Program has been awarded a grant from The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation for the development of the next phase of the interactive EFD Virtual Site, the EFD Virtual Well Pad Site.

The EFD Virtual Site is free and available to the public. With funding from The Cynthia & George Mitchell Foundation, HARC will work with members of the EFD University and National Laboratory Alliance, as well as subject matter experts from industry, environmental organizations, and other stakeholders to develop the latest addition to the interactive, multimedia web application. Using this state-of-the-art gaming software, users can familiarize themselves with the best practices associated with oil and gas development, as well as increase their understanding of these operations.

Dr. Rich Haut, Director of the EFD Program, said that the site demonstrates the latest advances in environmentally friendly technologies that can be used to address aspects associated with natural gas development. “Incorporating environmentally sound, low impact technologies and practices in oil and gas operations has great value to industry, our nation and our communities,” Haut stated.

As users walk around the site, they will encounter various ‘hotspots.’ The hotspots glow green so that the user can click on it to learn about the equipment or practice as well as environmentally friendly alternatives, read informative literature and/or case studies, and find various resource links with more information. The program is designed to share environmentally sustainable technologies and best management practices -- now available or under development -- with those in industry, government and education.

The initial Virtual Drilling Rig site project was managed by HARC with funding from the Texas General Land Office through a grant from the U.S. Department of the Interior, Coastal Impact Assistance Program. Additional funding came from the Groundwater Protection Council to develop the Hydraulic Fracturing Site. The EFD Virtual Site was selected as a finalist for the 2014 Best Outreach Program by World Oil.

A new aspect to this project will be the inclusion of web resources such as the Colorado School of Law Oil and Gas BMPs Project and the Law Atlas, a comparative tool for examining various laws and regulations related to oil and gas development in numerous states. The site will be updated regularly to share latest findings and technologies.

About HARC
A nonprofit organization based in The Woodlands, Texas, HARC is a research hub providing independent analysis on energy, air, and water issues to people seeking scientific answers. HARC is focused on building a sustainable future that helps people thrive and nature flourish. For more information, visit

The Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program managed by HARC, provides unbiased science to address environmental aspects associated with petroleum drilling and production operations. The objective is to identify, develop, and transfer critical, cost effective technologies, from site selection through gas compression, in order to provide policy makers and industry with the ability to develop reserves in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. For more information, visit