Challenges 2018-07-25T17:12:33+00:00


In the increasingly complex geological, political, and environmental systems of today, more efficient fossil  energy recovery, transport, and storage is needed to retain energy security, resilience, and safety. Sandia Labs addresses a wide range of challenges in unconventional shale science, wellbore integrity, drilling technology for difficult subsurface environments, deepwater characterization and engineering, and safe oil and gas transport.

Unconventional Shale Science and Natural Gas

Sandia’s research and development and drive to partner enables the United States to mitigate the risks of unconventional plays and overcome technical challenges while maximizing the benefits. Improving the fundamental chemical and physical understanding of ‘tight’ rocks or enabling adaptive controls may allow for additional, or more effective, extraction.

Wellbore Integrity & Storage

Sandia’s concentrations and capabilities support safer, more efficient resource retrieval, storage, and decommissioning. An increased understanding of wellbore events or conditions, such as leak advances or pathways, could help predict failures before they happen, preventing environmental damage while avoiding costly well damage, leaks, or repairs.

Safe Oil & Gas Transport

Testing, analysis, modeling, and simulations may help identify the risks associated with transporting fuels domestically and abroad, keeping people safe and minimizing damage to the environment or infrastructure should an incident occur. Sandia also contributes to effective transportation standards development, guidelines that inform the nation and transporters how materials can be transported safely and securely.

Drilling & Downhole Tools

Sandia’s work in drilling technology aims to reduce the cost and risk associated with drilling in harsh—sometimes corrosive—subsurface environments, which can reach  depths of over 5000 feet and extreme temperatures. Improved technology could increase the availability, affordability, and accessibility of oil and natural gas to maintain a reliable US energy supply.


Deep water drilling is riskier and more expensive than drilling on land, but it accesses a significant source of oil and gas, a component of the US energy portfolio. Sandia enables people to work more safely and technology to operate better in harsh and uncertain sub-sea environments.