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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1.       What does RPSEA stand for?

A. RPSEA is the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America, a nonprofit established in the State of Texas. RPSEA has met the requirements for a 501(c)(3) and holds a tax exempt status with the Internal Revenue Service. RPSEA currently consists of more than 170 consortium members, representing virtually all sectors of the natural gas and oil supply technology value chain.


Q2.       Why was RPSEA formed?

A. There is a critical need for the United States to develop a next generation of technology that will make it possible to tap Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Onshore Hydrocarbon Resources in the United States that are inaccessible or uneconomic to develop using current technology. Additionally, there are few programs that address the specific needs of Small Producers, such as produced water management, power generation and usage costs, and transportation costs. With such a proliferation of small producers who manage stripper (<10 BOPD) or near stripper well production in the U.S., and a continually depleting hydrocarbon resource that ensures that the number of low producing wells will increase in the future, it is paramount that their need for more efficient and effective optimization be addressed. Additionally, there are few programs that address the specific needs of Small Producers, such as produced water management, power generation and usage costs and transportation costs. With such a proliferation of small producers who manage stripper (<10 BOPD) or near stripper well production in the U.S. and a continually depleting hydrocarbon resource, it is paramount that their need for more efficient and effective optimization be addressed.

Key drivers leading to the formation of this research consortium include the following: The Energy Information Administration (EIA) forecasts a 10% increase in U.S. domestic natural gas consumption by 2025, while others estimate up to a 33% demand increase based on the expanded use of natural gas for power generation.  If the potential for clean, economic power generation from natural gas is to be realized, additional gas supplies will need to be brought online. Subtitle J of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 includes a provision for the use of royalties from federal oil and gas leases to fund a program of research, development, demonstration and commercial application of technologies for ultra-deepwater and unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resource exploration and production, including addressing the technology challenges for small producers, safe operations and environmental mitigation. RPSEA is proud to have been chosen as the program consortium to manage a portion of this program under contract to the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.


Q3.       What is the objective of RPSEA?

A. The objective of RPSEA is to leverage research dollars along with the technical expertise and experience of RPSEA members to conduct industry led research and development work to help commercialize domestic Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Onshore Hydrocarbon Resources, as well as to address the critical technical challenges particular to Small Producers. RPSEA will focus on innovative technologies to reduce the costs of production, expand and extend the nation's hydrocarbon resource base and maintain the highest level of safety while reducing and mitigating the environmental impacts of energy production in these regions. RPSEA is also committed to reducing the burden of high energy costs on the nation’s consumers, increasing federal royalty revenue by increasing production from federal lands that are currently available to be developed, enhancing the nation’s knowledge base, increasing industrial competitiveness by lowering energy costs and promoting opportunities for small and disadvantaged businesses.


Q4.       How is the technical work required to meet RPSEA’s objectives accomplished?

A. All research and development work under the RPSEA program is accomplished through competitively selected awards based on proposals submitted in response to open solicitations. Through these awards, RPSEA succeeds in identifying, funding and facilitating the development of the most appropriate and necessary research to maximize the value of our nation’s domestic resources. This is through increasing supply, reducing cost, increasing efficiency of production and exploration, improving safety and minimizing environmental impacts.


Q5.       What work has already been undertaken by RPSEA?

A. RPSEA has operated as a robust research management consortium for more than five years. Over this period, RPSEA has funded projects which have focused on a broad range of relevant technologies. More information on specific RPSEA projects can be found on the Project Pages[link]. RPSEA has also been looking to the industry's future and has implemented and funded a fellowship program whereby graduate students have been awarded fellowships following a competitive evaluation of applicants from some of the nation's leading universities whose graduates enter the oil and gas industry.


Q6.       How is RPSEA governed?

  1. RPSEA is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of individuals from all sectors of the oil and gas resources industry. Board Members are nominated and approved by the Board and serve for a two-year term.

The Executive Committee’s role is to serve as an advisory committee to the Board. It reports directly to the Board and has the authority to nominate and recommend Board members, appoint committees, approve the hiring of RPSEA employees, endorse the annual budget and approve financial reporting.


Q7.       Who is eligible to become a member of RPSEA?

  1. Participation in RPSEA is open to all organizations resident or incorporated within the United States, Mexico and Canada, and that are actively engaged in the energy industry or energy related research. Eligible entities include:
  • Commercial energy companies engaged in the business of energy exploration, production, field operations and/or transportation, and/or in the business of energy technology research, development, deployment or commercialization;
  • National Laboratories/Federally Funded Research Development Centers;
  • Academic and other research institutions involved in natural gas and other energy research and development; 
  • Non-government organizations and industry trade associations with an interest in energy and/or environment science, technology or policy; and
  • Federal or state governmental agencies.

Being a quarterly, two-step process, membership is approved first internally through RPSEA and second by the Secretary of Energy.


Q8.       What are the costs associated with membership?

  1. Dues are paid annually at the beginning of RPSEA’s fiscal year, October 1.
  • Commercial Company with Annual Revenue > $100M - $10,000
  • Commercial Company with Annual Revenue < $100M >$30M - $5,000
  • Commercial Company with Annual Revenue < $30M - $1,000
  • Academic Institution - $2,500
  • State/Federal Government Entity - $2,500
  • Nonprofit/Trade Association - $1,000


Q9.       What opportunities are available for members to participate in RPSEA leadership roles?

  1. Active participation in RPSEA by its membership is encouraged. As noted above, RPSEA is governed by a Board of Directors that oversees all aspects of the corporation. Within the Board of Directors, subcommittees have been established to address specific aspects of this governance and are available to those Board Members interested in serving on them. In addition to the Board of Directors, RPSEA has a number of active advisory committees. These committees provide strategic direction to RPSEA, as well as actively participate in the selection and management of research projects.

Program Advisory (PAC) and Technical Advisory (TAC) Committees - Generally, the PACs provide recommendations on elements of the proposed draft Annual Plan, but primarily reviews proposals and makes project selection recommendations from the pool of reviewed proposals into an integrated R&D portfolio, as well as follows each selected project’s progress, plans, results, and especially, technology transfer. The TACs provide subject specific technical advice on the development of the proposed plan and conduct the quantitative proposal reviews at the direction of the PACs. All projects are reviewed by the PACs and TACs annually. Each program is directed by a PAC, and the Ultra-Deepwater and the Unconventional Resources Programs utilize a TAC(s).

Environmental Advisory Group (EAG) - Environmental stewardship is at the core of all RPSEA activities. The EAG is designed to provide input to the program regarding environmental issues. It organizes and brings together key experts and policy leaders from academia, regulatory entities, nongovernmental organizations and industry for road mapping exercises to identify key regulatory barriers/issues. As requested, the EAG reviews programs, projects and plans to ensure that environmental issues are appropriately addressed. The EAG also serves in a liaison capacity with various environmental programs and organizations across the United States.

Members that are interested in additional engagement through these committees should contact the Director of Corporate Affairs Steve Beach.


Q10.     What opportunities for R&D project funding will be available through RPSEA?

  1. Four rounds of solicitations and awards have been administered for Ultra-Deepwater, Unconventional Resources and Small Producer programs.  As the program consortium for Subtitle J of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, RPSEA manages three program areas, Ultra-Deepwater, Unconventional Resources and Small Producer. Each program’s funding is set annually to invest in oil and gas research and development projects. The Ultra-Deepwater Program is funded at $17.5 million annually, the Unconventional Resources Program at $16.25 million and the Small Producer Program at $3.75 million. The funding of projects flows through solicitations issued, proposals submitted and projects selected for award.  These solicitations will be developed by RPSEA through its member companies by utilizing the technical expertise of member organizations’ subject matter experts. As the solicitations become open for bidding, they will be published on the RPSEA website and advertised at various RPSEA-sponsored events. The Annual Plan[link] approved by Department of Energy  provides the framework for the solicitations to be issued each year.


Q11.     How is RPSEA connected to DeepStar?

  1. DeepStar is a longstanding industry consortium engaged in deepwater technology development. In the initial years of RPSEA’s role as the program consortium under Subtitle J of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, RPSEA contracted with Chevron, the manager of DeepStar, to manage the Ultra-Deepwater Program. As the program evolved, RPSEA internalized its Ultra-Deepwater Program management, as well as that of the Unconventional Resources and Small Producer Programs, within the RPSEA organization. RPSEA has a close cooperative relationship with DeepStar and anticipates constructive cooperation and coordination in future years.


Q12.     Does RPSEA issue contracts or grants?

  1. RPSEA awards subcontracts under its prime contract with the Department of Energy. The subcontracts awarded must adhere to the provisions of federal procurement regulations, including the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Department of Energy Acquisition Regulation (DEAR).


Q13.     How often are RFPs released?

  1. Annually for each program.


Q14.     How can I get website access to the member’s only information?

  1. You must be a current RPSEA member and must log-in with your individual log-in credentials sent to you by RPSEA. Please contact the web administrator to receive your credentials as a RPSEA member.


Q15.     Is RPSEA a government organization?

  1. No, RPSEA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. RPSEA is managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, a division of the Department of Energy.


Q16.     What are RPSEA’s focuses?

  1. There are three programs within the RPSEA umbrella, Unconventional Resources Program, Small Producer Program and the Ultra-Deepwater Program. Each program is specifically designed according to the 2005 Energy Policy Act, Subtitle J, Section 999.


Q17.     How is RPSEA funded?

  1. The 2005 Energy Policy Act, Subtitle J, Section 999 sets the funding for the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Resources Research and Development Program at a level of $50-million-per-year provided from federal lease royalties, rents, and bonuses paid by oil and gas companies. The funds are to be directed towards research, specifically targeting four areas: ultra-deepwater resources, unconventional natural gas and other petroleum resources, technology challenges of small producers, and research complementary to these areas.