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Domestic oil and natural gas production are important to meeting our nation's energy needs and represented more than 40 percent of the U.S. energy production in 2006. The Department of Energy (DOE) has undertaken research and development (R&D) for oil and natural gas since its inception in the late 1970s. Historically, the federal government has entered into cost-sharing agreements with universities, state agencies, and independent companies to help fund these R&D efforts, which were often long-term, high-risk projects with variable results. In recent appropriations, DOE's funding for oil and natural gas R&D was significantly reduced. In this context, Congress asked GAO to review DOE's R&D activities for oil and natural gas and provide information on (1) how much has been appropriated during the past 10 years, (2) how DOE expended these appropriations and its reported results to date, (3) the potential future results from continuing DOE-sponsored research in oil and natural gas technologies, and (4) the factors that could be considered when determining the federal government's role in oil and natural gas R&D.

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