Director, Resource Extraction
Dr. Doug Patchen thought he would study history. But, like many college students, he changed his mind. He chose geology instead because, “Understanding geology helps make sense of what happens on the surface.” Four decades later, he is a recognized authority on energy resources in Appalachia.
After receiving his Ph.D. in geology from Syracuse University, Patchen accepted a position with the West Virginia Geological and Economic Survey, eventually becoming the state’s chief geologist. In 1990, EI/NRCCE Director Richard Bajura approached the survey with a request for Patchen to serve as director of EI/NRCCE’s newly-formed Appalachian Oil and Natural Gas Research Consortium. The three-year arrangement turned into a decades-long relationship that led to the establishment of the Appalachian Regional Lead Organization of the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council and participation in the Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program coordinated by the Houston Advanced Research Center.
The programs’ efforts help promote the “supply of needed energy while keeping costs down and being environmentally responsible.”
Under the AONGRC, Patchen directed research that resulted in The Atlas of Major Appalachian Gas Plays and the Geologic Play Books for Trenton-Black River Appalachian Basin Exploration and the Geologic Play Book for Utica Shale Appalachian Basin Exploration. In 2016-17, he directed the Appalachian Storage Hub for Natural Gas Liquids project, a three-state effort to locate the optimum subsurface storage options for natural gas liquids produced from the Marcellus and Utica shale plays.
Under the PTTC, Patchen has organized more than 170 workshops in seven states. These workshops transfer the results of research to independent oil and gas producers for use in gas plays such as the Marcellus and Utica.
Working with students has been his greatest reward. “I have the opportunity to show students how geology and engineering can be combined to solve energy problems.”
In 2008, Patchen received the John T. Galey Memorial Award of the Eastern Section American Association of Petroleum Geologists, its highest honor. In 2009, he was inducted as an honorary member of the Appalachian Geological Society in recognition of a remarkable career spanning 43 years of service to the State of West Virginia.
Patchen retired from the WVGES in 2009 but maintains his position with the EI/NRCCE through the WVU Research Corporation. He continues to speak at regional and national seminars to inform landowners, researchers, industry professionals, and policy makers about the benefits and risks of oil and gas drilling.
Patchen is a passionate soccer enthusiast and provided a great deal of time and energy into the development of soccer in the Morgantown area. He even helped with the creation of the MYSA fields. He is a huge basketball fan–women’s and men’s. He and his wife adopted two children and are now the proud grandparents of a grandson in Morgantown, and a granddaughter and grandson in Perkiomenville, Pa.