Sorry, you need to enable JavaScript to visit this website.

Skip to content Skip to navigation


Concern about climate change has unintended consequences for the most impoverished countries.

Stanford researchers’ comprehensive new assessment of climate emissions from crude oil production suggests avoiding the most carbon-intensive reservoirs and better management of natural gas could dramatically slash emissions.

Mark Zoback, NGI Co-Director, discusses the impact of the natural gas revolution as electricity providers transition from coal to a renewable-energy future.

Stanford experts agree that the world needs to be less reliant on fossil fuels for energy. Getting there will remake the world’s largest economic sector – energy – into one that is more sustainable, secure and affordable for everyone.

Stanford University’s Natural Gas Initiative and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) have invited 11 organizations, covering 12 different technologies, to the controlled-testing phase of the Mobile Monitoring Challenge (MMC), a competition to advance mobile methane monitoring technologies at oil and natural gas facilities. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas – about 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide, though shorter lived.

Recent doctoral research by Lauren Culver examines decision making at the intersection of energy and foreign policy and evaluates natural gas as a way to balance global development and climate goals. Dr. Culver is currently an energy specialist at the World Bank working to help countries meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by alleviating energy poverty while limiting climate changing emissions. 

Stanford economics Professor and NGI researcher, Larry Goulder, discusses the tradeoffs of federal climate policy options and finds ways to enhance both societal health and economic benefits.

The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative is planning a busy and informative 2018. In February we had our annual Governing Board meeting to better define our focus and direction for the year. We will maintain our current research while launching several new research directions around the role of natural gas in future energy systems, renewable natural gas, and unconventional reservoirs. We will issue a new call for research proposals in 2018 and are announcing a week of events in October 2018. Please be sure to keep checking our website and future newsletters to stay updated on what is coming up. 

Professor Mark Zoback is once again offering a free online class in Reservoir Geomechanics. This interdisciplinary course encompasses the fields of rock mechanics, structural geology, earthquake seismology, and petroleum engineering to address a wide range of geomechanical problems that arise during the exploitation of oil and gas reservoirs. To date, over 9000 people – principally college students and current industry professionals – have successfully completed the course. 

Natural gas is now the nation’s leading source of electricity. It is abundant and cheap, which has not only crippled the coal industry but has also impacted virtually every other source of power that makes up the energy grid. Some have estimated there is enough natural gas in the U.S. to meet the country’s energy needs for about 200 years. But “King Gas” has its critics — especially among environmentalists — and California’s fast-changing energy landscape offers hints that a long, smooth reign for natural gas is far from assured.

As the world continues to burn 100 million barrels of oil a day – a rate that is expected to continue for the next 50 years – Stanford Earth researchers are developing greener ways of extracting the oil and mitigating the resulting greenhouse gases.

The number of small-to-moderate sized earthquakes in large areas of the central and eastern U.S. began to increase dramatically in 2005. The occurrence of many of these earthquakes correlates with the increased use of horizontal drilling and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing by the oil and gas industry. In this talk, Dr. Zoback explains how and why these earthquakes occurred and the steps that can be taken to reduce their occurrence, and what this may mean for oil and gas production in New Zealand.

Mark C. Thurber of Stanford University on developed nations’ struggle to dump coal.

Stanford Geological Sciences Professor Jef Caers shares his YouTube Channel.

The competition will provide a level and controlled playing field for testing remote technologies to monitor methane leaks from the oil and gas industry.

The Stanford Natural Gas Initiative convened a symposium entitled Reducing Energy Poverty with Natural Gas: Changing Political, Business and Technology Paradigms. The symposium convened the university’s experts and external leaders to explore ways that natural gas and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) can most effectively be used to address energy poverty around the world. The final product from the symposium is this action plan that summarizes the main takeaways and recommendations for further efforts.

The benefits of fracking far outweigh its costs not only economically, but environmentally, a Stanford University geophysicist said Friday. After teaching geophysics at Stanford for 30 years Mark Zoback took the helm of Stanford's new Natural Gas Initiative three years ago, he said, because of gas's environmental benefits.

Symposium convenes 130 thought leaders from 12 countries to discuss solutions to energy poverty in developing economies.

Tourists flock to Point Lobos State Natural Reserve near Monterey, Calif., for its breathtaking coastal views and glimpses of the playful sea otters and other marine mammals that can be found among its waters. But the site has long attracted geologists for a very different reason.

It’s not carbon-free, but Natural Gas it has a transformative role to play in energizing developing nations.

Methane is the major component of natural gas, which recently surpassed coal as the top fuel for generating electricity in the United States, but is also a powerful greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming, and because methane is highly flammable, gas leaks pose a significant safety hazard. Stanford research focuses on evaluating leak detection technologies and using those insights to inform emissions mitigation policy. 

Professor Mark Zoback, Director of Natural Gas Initiative at Stanford University moderates a panel on Increased Opportunities for Utilization of North American Natural Gas, during the Global Energy Forum in Beaver Creek.

2016 was a great year for the Natural Gas Initiative, from new research to several  successful events, we have achieved a great deal. Below we highlight some of NGI's accomplishments during the last few months.

Check out this 2-minute video on Modeling of Gas Hydrates, created by PhD students Laura Dafov and Zachary Burton, from the Stanford Basin and Petroleum System Modeling Program. The video was submitted to the 2017 Global Energy Forum contest. The competition is open to all current Stanford undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. To participate, individuals or teams of two students submit a short video highlighting their energy-related research.


A new study finds that just a few natural gas wells account for more than half of the total volume of leaked methane gas in the United States. Fixing leaks at those top emitters could significantly reduce leaks of methane, a potent greenhouse gas.

There are 1 billion people in the world without access to electricity, another 2 billion that have inadequate, unreliable electricity, and 3 billion without access to modern cooking energy.  Achieving access to modern energy in developing economies is required to allow countries to realize their full economic potential and meet the aspirations of their citizens. To discuss this issue, the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative will host a symposium on May 9 and 10, 2017 at Stanford on Reducing Energy Poverty with Natural Gas: New Technologies and Changing Paradigms.  See how you can get involved.

Gas and hydrocarbons represent 90% of the world’s energy. This has to change, but how will it play out? How will gas affect different sectors; how will it interact with other energy sources? Do renewables require gas? What are the drawbacks and the real measures of what’s good and what’s bad about gas? This candid conversation with leading gas experts from Stanford University spanning the value chain, and industry expert and distinguished leader Maarten Wetselaar, explores these questions and more.
A new “virtual gas field simulator” developed by Stanford scientists and supported by the Natural Gas Initiative, aims to help companies and government agencies weigh the economic costs and benefits of different methane leak detection technologies and pick the best one for a given situation
First the good news: most of the nation’s natural gas leakage can be halted by plugging up a relatively small number of “super emitters,” according to Adam Brandt, Stanford researcher who first documented the government’s underestimate of the methane problem. Now the bad news: the relatively small number of super emitters is still a vast number considering the size of the natural gas infrastructure and how little we know about it.
The quarterly NGI newsletter highlights some of the program's accomplishments during the first three months of 2016.

This call for proposals from the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative is open to Stanford faculty performing new research in any aspect of natural gas development, use, policy, markets or impacts. A letter of intent to submit is due on February 15, 2016, and full proposals are due on March 15, 2016. Expected funding for each proposed project is up to $100,000 per year.

Here's how to get activists at both ends of the spectrum past their suspicion and anger about each other

Welcome to the first issue of the NGI newsletter. We are proud to announce the latest developments for the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative since our inauguration in February 2015.

Replacing older natural gas pipelines reduces leaks and improves consumer safety.

New awards fund range of projects from improved detection of gas leaks to conversion of natural gas into liquid fuels, and climate-related policy studies.

Stanford University's Natural Gas Initiative will research many questions related to the responsible development of natural gas as a fuel supply in the United States and around the world.

Hydraulic fracturing has unleashed massive new supplies of natural gas, as well as anxiety about contaminated drinking water and earthquakes.

This call for proposals is open to Stanford faculty performing new research in Energy and the Natural Gas Resource, from the Natural Gas Initiative.  A letter of intent to submit is due on May 15, 2015, and full proposals are due on June 29, 2015.

Can the surge of U.S. natural gas be managed in a way that benefits the environment, the economy, human health and even peace? Will the United States export the technologies behind that surge or just sell the world its natural gas?

Please download our brochure.