Our Work

Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program

Hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling and other advanced technologies have enabled production of domestic oil and gas from shale and tight rock throughout North America. This new age of petroleum brings with it new challenges, to protect the environment and engage communities while operating in challenging economic circumstances.

The HARC Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program provides unbiased science to address the environmental and societal aspects of all oil and gas activities. Research focuses on water resources and treatment technologies, flaring mitigation, air quality, engine emissions and more. EFD works collaboratively with partners in industry, academia, environmental groups, and regulatory authorities, engaging diverse perspectives to define challenges and develop solutions. The EFD Program has performed research in technologies and practices to improve environmental performance, including field research to better understand the challenges, test new ideas and document results.

The EFD Alliance is comprised of research institutions through the US and abroad, working together to leverage the best scientific resources in partnerships formed for the tasks at hand. The EFD Industry Consortium is made up of oil and gas operating companies, oilfield service companies, purveyors of technology, and other private business entities. Environmental groups and regulatory authorities have an important voice in the collaborative process that guides the research.

With a proven track record of accomplishments in a diverse field of disciplines, the EFD program is engaged in efforts to address the most pressing concerns of the energy industry, the public, regulators, and other stakeholders. Current efforts focus on carbon emissions, water management, and in-depth analyses of technologies that offer environmental and economic advantages with Life Cycle Assessment (LCA). Joining with researchers from across the country, EFD is investigating fugitive methane, clean power, and the practices and technologies that offer alternatives to underground injection for produced water management. This research is driven by need, and funded from various sources including government grants, foundations and industry interests. EFD has established a reputation for prioritizing science, not political or advocacy pressures. These accomplishments include programs in workforce development, coastal ecology, technology integration, field trials, and more.

EFD has developed workforce resources to foster environmental awareness by training workers in identifying and mitigating environmental effects of exploration and production activities. To reach a broad audience, HARC and the EFD Team developed the free, online EFD Virtual Site, featuring a drilling rig, hydraulic fracturing fleet, production facility, and offshore platform with examples of environmental performance technologies. The EFD Virtual Site offers visitors options to ‘Tour’ by watching a short video that explains the oil and gas production process, history, and terminology. Visitors can ‘Explore’ these facilities in a virtual environment. To learn more about Environmentally Friendly Drilling Virtual Site, please visit

In the quest to reduce emissions from all sources, EFD has been engaged in field efforts to directly measure engine emissions and fugitive methane. Robust instrumentation developed by HARC scientists can be deployed to drilling and hydraulic fracturing sites to directly measure emissions from the engines that power the oilfield. This “intrinsically safe” instrumentation is safe for use in environments where hydrocarbon vapor may be present. The “iBox” system, as it has been dubbed, has been used in studies of dual fuel diesel engines. These engines use natural gas with diesel fuel to improve fuel economy while offering certain emissions advantages. This work was initiated at the behest of EFD industry sponsors seeking to utilize natural gas fuel as a way to reduce the environmental footprint of their operations while saving on fuel costs. The “Powered by Natural Gas – PbNG” research initiative examines power technologies, fueling systems, logistical issues, emissions, and more.

In a multi-year effort funded through the Texas General Land Office (GLO) by offshore oil and gas revenue sharing, the EFD Coastal Impact Technology Program (CITP) sponsored seventeen research and demonstration projects with Texas universities, and private and non-profit entities. This work addressed the critical areas of air emissions, water resources, site restoration, and workforce development in the Texas Coastal Region. One important product of this program is the Wetland Friendly Drilling Tool, an online resource for planning and management of oil and gas activities in the coastal zone.

The EFD Technology Integration Program (TIP) secured twelve sites at which field trials were conducted. These field trials evaluated technologies and management practices to improvement monitoring and measurement, reduce emissions, treat produced water, and reduce flaring. Novel technologies and concepts were tested in the field, such as biotreatment of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in tank vapor, Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) power generation using flare gas, and the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to deploy air quality sensors.

To learn more about Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program, please visit

Project Announcements

Publications, Lectures & Presentations

HARC's Carolyn LaFleur, Research Associate, Energy Production, will present findings of the dual fuel emissions study at the Natural Gas for High Horsepower Summit in Dallas, Texas October 27, 2015.

Researcher Announcement

HARC's EFD Systems Program has been nominated as a 2015 World Oil Awards finalists in Best Health, Safety, Environment/Sustainable Development - Offshore Award. The event will be held on October 15, 20145 at The Houstonian in Houston.

Researcher Announcement

Rich Haut will be recognized as a distinguished member and moderate a panel at the Society of Petroleum Engineers Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition September 28-30, 2015 in Houston, Texas

Publications, Lectures & Presentations

HARC's Rich Haut will moderate a panel at the 2015-2016 Energy Symposium Series: Critical Issues in Energy, "Arctic Drilling: Untapped Opportunity or Risky Business?" on Thursday, September 24, 2015.


Primary Researcher