SPE logo

The Quest to Reduce the Environmental Footprint

21 26 July 2013 :: Asheville, North Carolina, USA

Technical Agenda

Session I: Sustaining Our License to Operate

Session Managers: Michael Behounek and Rich Haut

Expectations placed on oil and gas operators are increasing every day. Pressure comes from a variety of stakeholders to reduce costs, improve services, comply with an ever expanding list of regulations, and to address environmental issues. Our opening session will discuss these issues and set the themes for the week.

Session II: Reducing Emissions Across the Industry

Session Managers: Steve Freeman and Natalie Wagner

Emissions are a talking point for environmental groups and a focus for regulators today. Between air inventories, projected and calculated emissions and the related permit applications and reporting requirements, where are the pain points, the lack of congruence or agreement in values? What can we do to simplify the efforts while reaching toward overall fewer emissions? What will be the reality in 10 years?

Let’s discuss a possible future.

Session III: Water Sourcing, Management and Use During Drilling and Completion Activities

Session Managers: Tom Geehan and Jeff Noe

Water is the most commonly used fluid in onshore oil and gas development. This statement is particularly true in unconventional plays where hydraulic fracturing is key to the success of these developments. Currently, hydraulic fracturing requires large volumes of water. This session will focus on the environmental and societal aspects of various water sourcing options, water transportation and storage strategies, and water composition, quality and compatibility considerations when used in drilling and completion activities. What are our options in the future to mitigate these issues?

Discussion topics will include:

  • Surface and groundwater sources and the potential issues associated with timing and volumes of withdrawals as well as ecological impacts
  • Methods to reduce or mitigate transportation and storage risks
  • Reuse and treatment options
  • Fracture fluid selection and management with emphasis on source water compatibility and environmentally friendly options, including non-water based alternatives

Session IV: Produced Water Handling

Session Managers: Jeff Daniels and Tom Geehan

Capturing produced water and its subsequent handling is a major environmental and engineering challenge and expense for oil and gas production in wells today. This session focuses on reuse and disposal of produced water from the point of separation of the oil-gas-water at the wellhead to the environmentally safe disposition of the water, and what the future holds. The following water handling options will be the focus of separate discussions:

  • on-site filtration and recycling
  • transportation
  • treatment processes to enable discharge
  • deep well disposal

Session V: Groundwater and Surface Water Protection

Session Managers:  Steve Freeman and Mark Reis

What is the future of groundwater and surface water protection?
Let's focus on the main area for discussion:

  • Prevention of ground water contamination through proper wellbore design and integrity. The topics for review are casing design, casing corrosion, cementing, and well plugging and abandonment (P&A) practices.
  • Spill avoidance in the handling and transportation of frac water. The focus will be on the quantities of water that require storage on location, the large number of trucks required by current fracing methods, and the increased requirements for closed mud systems. Of particular note, the large number of trucks has a major impact on the road systems, and has increased the probability of accidents.

Session VI: Land

Session Managers: Stephen Ingram and Jeff Noe

Onshore oil and gas development has increased significantly in the past decade, driven by technology developments like horizontal drilling, multi-well pad operations and multi-stage hydraulic fracturing. Correspondingly, the surface footprint required by this expanded development has caused operators to adjust their land use approaches to reduce surface disturbances and the potential for surface-related impacts.

This session will focus on the environmental and societal aspects of land use associated with drilling, completion and production activities carried out as part of an initial development or redevelopment, in urban or rural areas and on public or private properties. With a focus on the future, discussion topics will include:

  • Reduced footprint equipment
  • Alternative fueling
  • Reducing surface disturbance

Session VII: Community—The Social and Economic Effects That Are a By-product of Increased Exploration and Development

Session Managers: Jeff Daniels and Mark Reis

We know that increased oil and gas exploration have had an effect on the local and state communities. The stereotypical image of "The Energy Company" and the perceived endangerment to the public must be addressed in an open and active discussion between all concerned parties. This plan requires public and stakeholder engagement, and the education of the general public.

We will devote this session to discussions about managing the expectations of the public and the cyclic nature of the business. These discussions will revolve around our next steps in our relationship with the public.

Session VIII: Shaping the Future

Session Managers: Natalie Wagner and Stephen Ingram

During this session you will be challenged to shape the future of the oil and gas industry. The forum participants will divide into 3 focus groups. Each group will be led by a subject matter expert with each group driving recommendations to be adopted in the future. All forum participants are challenged to determine concepts for implementation by our industry in the future.

  • Focus Group 1: Technology
  • Drilling rig and fracture stimulation technology with energy efficiency, modular technology and the design criteria required to meet various regional regulatory scenarios.

  • Focus Group 2: Field development
    • What can field development become after the “lease craze” period?
    • Field development in a non-US regulation environment (elsewhere in the world). What are the strategies and best practices to incorporate?
    • What are the environmental impact, physical footprint, and stewardship roles with field development?
  • Focus Group 3: The next step

It is 2033 and the oil and gas sector is now known for “XYZ.” Is “XYZ” reducing global carbon emissions? Is it increasing drinking water safety, and by what means? Is it eliminating spills by enacting what process, policy, or technology? How did we get there from here?

Session IX: The Holy Grail

Session Managers: Michael Behounek and Rich Haut

Our concluding session explores opportunities for future programs to save money, uphold reputations, and manage optimum programs that comply with regulations of today and tomorrow, and address environmental issues.