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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?

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