Environment
Science Daily | 17 June 2016

Ecological Method for Cleaning Oil From Lakes

A new technology developed at Tomsk State University (TSU) for cleaning oil from lakes is best suited for lakes with thick sediments, report scientists. The method allows cleaning both sediments and water, and there are no any restrictions on the depth of the pond.

Danil Vorobiev, doctor of biological sciences and director of biological institute at TSU. Photo courtesy of TSU.

The oil cleansing method was developed by TSU researchers, and it is optimal for lake ecosystems. The experiment proved that the content of oil in water wasc reduced by 35 to 40 times.

“The technology is based on flotation method,” said Danil Vorobiev, one of the authors of this development and doctor of biological sciences and director of the biological institute at TSU. “In place of oil accumulation, we perform pneumatic and mechanical action and, as a result, oil sticks to the section of the two phases—liquid and air—and rises to the surface.”

The method does not require using any chemicals and can be used in winter when vegetative processes in a lake “freeze” and interference with the underwater world is minimal.

Offshore Energy Today | 15 June 2016

APPEA Presents Woodside With Environment Excellence Award

The Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association (APPEA) has awarded Australian energy company Woodside with the Environment Excellence Award on 6 June at the APPEA 2016 Conference Dinner in Brisbane.

APPEA presents Woodside with the Environment Excellence Award.

APPEA board member and Buru Energy executive chairman Eric Streitberg said the judges found that Woodside has consistently shown excellence across all facets of environmental performance.

Streitberg said, “Woodside minimizes its footprint by integrating world-class environmental management into its exploration and its facilities.”

He added that Woodside emphasizes the use of sound science and that it uses key scientific partnerships to enhance local knowledge.

Coloradoan | 15 June 2016

Colorado State University Lands USD 3.5 Million Methane Emissions Test Site

Colorado State University (CSU) will soon be a hub for national research on emissions of methane, a potent greenhouse gas and side effect of natural gas production.

CSU researchers will partner with the Colorado School of Mines to design, build, and operate a methane emissions testing facility near Fort Collins. Photo courtesy of Colorado State University.

A team of CSU researchers just landed a USD 3.5 million Department of Energy grant to create and operate a facility to simulate a range of natural gas production systems and test new technologies for sensing methane. The grant will be awarded over 3 years.

The CSU team will work with the Colorado School of Mines to design, build, and operate the facility on CSU property near Fort Collins, according to a university press release. The facility will host subfacilities to simulate steps of the natural gas supply chain, including dry and wet gas production, midstream compression, metering and regulating stations, and underground pipelines.

Offshore Energy Today | 31 May 2016

US Says Offshore Fracturing Has Minimal Effect on Environment

The Obama administration has made a decision according to which well-stimulation treatments, including hydraulic fracturing, in oil and gas activities offshore California pose no significant effect to the environment.

The US Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) and Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) said the decision was made after they completed a comprehensive environmental analysis evaluating the potential effects from the use of well-stimulation treatments on the 23 oil and gas platforms currently in operation on the Outer Continental Shelf offshore California.

“The comprehensive analysis shows that these practices, conducted according to permit requirements, have minimal impact,” said BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper. “As always, coordination with other key agencies, and input from the public and nongovernmental organizations,were vitally important as we developed this assessment.”

The announcement from BOEM and the BSEE ends a court-ordered settlement that placed a moratorium on offshore fracturing and acidizing in federal waters off California.

Investor's Business Daily | 24 May 2016

Column: We Don’t Have To Shut Oil and Gas Production To Curb Methane

Across the oil and gas industry, companies are struggling in the face of low energy prices. Belt tightening means companies can’t afford to pass up opportunities to curb waste—especially those that pay for themselves and benefit our environment in the process.

Methane, a powerful greenhouse gas and the key component of natural gas, escapes into our atmosphere every day across the oil and gas supply chain—both intentionally and accidentally. But some oil and gas companies are working with manufacturers and tapping into the American spirit of innovation and entrepreneurialism to reduce pollution caused by emissions of methane. In doing so, they boost US manufacturing and create much-needed jobs.

Reducing methane emissions offers opportunities for forward-thinking companies in the oil and gas sector to reduce risk, improve trust, and gain financially, while also providing clear and immediate environmental benefits. Every time methane is emitted into the atmosphere, oil and gas companies waste a valuable national energy resource and saleable product. A 2015 estimate placed the value of natural gas lost across the globe at USD 30 billion annually.  Just last week, the EPA finalized  rules curbing emissions of methane from new and modified oil and gas sources.

These emissions pose a serious threat to both the environment and public health. Initially, when released, methane is 84 times more efficient at trapping heat than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years it is in the atmosphere and is frequently emitted alongside other pollutants that impact local air quality.

Luckily, cost-effective solutions for curbing emissions exist, and an entire industry stands ready to address the methane issue. More than 75 American companies—60% of which are small businesses—build, sell, and support technologies that minimize methane emissions from oil and gas operations. In the process, they create much-needed, well-paying, and skilled jobs such as mechanical engineers, machinists, and assemblers in states such as Iowa, Texas, Oklahoma, and Ohio.

Reuters | 24 May 2016

Climate Change Takes Center Stage at Exxon, Chevron Annual Meetings

Exxon Mobil and Chevron will face their toughest-ever push by shareholders concerned about a warming world at annual meetings on 25 May, as the Paris accord to tackle climate change ratchets up investor pressure on two of the world’s largest oil companies.

The tension is most acute at Exxon, which has denied accusations from environmentalists that it purposely misled the public about climate change risks. The New York attorney general is investigating Exxon, and it has complained of being unfairly targeted by special interest groups.

The raft of proposals up for vote at the two companies more than doubled to 11 this year, the latest sign that environmental concerns once considered peripheral by many investors have become mainstream. Even the most traditional shareholder groups are now urging companies to detail how they will plan for the future after 195 governments agreed in December to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) through combined national pledges to cut carbon emissions from fossil fuels.

The Monitor | 16 May 2016

Column: Water Technology Innovation From Texas Gas and Oil Companies

Texans know that water is among our state’s most precious resources and it takes creative thinking and cooperation between the public and private sectors to address our water needs. Texans may not know, however, that the oil and natural gas industry is at the forefront of water conservation, innovation, and sustainability efforts in the Lone Star State.

Texas is the nation’s No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas because of a tried and tested well-stimulation technique called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. Water used in fracking accounts for a small fraction of the state’s total water use. According to The University of Texas Bureau of Economic Geology, water use by the oil and natural gas industry is still projected to be less than 1% of water use in Texas when exploration and production water demands are expected to peak within the next 2 decades.

Even so, many Texas oil and natural gas companies are voluntarily leading the way to develop and deploy innovative technologies that are reducing water use, expanding water reuse and increasing use of naturally occurring saltwater (brackish water) in their operations.

The Brattle Group via Mondaq | 16 May 2016

Produced Water—Emerging Challenges, Risks, and Opportunities

Produced water should be viewed as an environmental asset—part of the water resource solution—not as a waste that contributes to environmental problems; its treatment and reuse can reduce the stress on fresh water resources.

Treatment cost is the most significant factor determining the volume of produced water that will be available for reuse. Water pricing, which is in large part a matter of public policy, must also be considered when reexamining how to maximize the use of this valuable resource. When deciding whether to treat and use produced water, companies will need to weigh the risk of litigation and regulatory enforcement actions against the benefits of introducing treated water into the stream of commerce.

Allaying the public’s fear of chemicals in the water supply is also a significant factor in determining whether produced water is viewed as part of a water resource solution or as a waste by-product.

Daily Camera | 12 May 2016

Scientists Shine Light on Methane Leakage at Shale Basin

Previous estimates of methane leaking from the Bakken oil and gas field appear to have been overstated, according to a new study by Boulder researchers, but the emissions are still significant.

Scientists representing Boulder’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder working at the NOAA, teamed with researchers at three other institutions, released their findings today.

The study calculated that about 275,000 tons of methane per year leak from the Bakken, which covers parts of Montana and North Dakota. That is comparable to the emission rate found for Colorado’s Denver-Julesburg basin.

That quantity, although considerable, is less than reported by some satellites and is also below the most recent Environmental Protection Agency inventory for petroleum systems.

Upstream | 10 May 2016

Scientists Crack Oil-Hungry Bacteria

Scientists have found a new way to clean up future big oil spills after cracking the genetic code of the marine bacteria that helped “eat” the oil spilled from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, discovered that the oil-hungry bacteria “could aid clean-up efforts for the next major spill.”

A sample from the Deepwater Horizon spill site shows oil-eating bacteria (small shapes) and crude oil droplets (large shapes). Photo courtesy of Heriot-Watt University.

In collaboration with The University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, scientists performed experiments with samples from oil-contaminated waters of the Gulf of Mexico shortly after the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred—samples that contained key species of bacteria that fed on the oil.

The work revealed that certain bacteria had thrived on the oil that gushed into the Gulf by devouring the oil as a preferred food source.

“Oil is a very complex fluid that contains thousands of different types of hydrocarbon chemicals, many of which are toxic and difficult to break down. But some of these bacteria can,” associate professor of microbiology at Heriot-Watt University Tony Gutierrez said.

“Understanding which bacteria are important to breaking down oil could help lead to the design of emergency response plans that are more effective and environmentally friendly for combatting a major spill.”

“Different bacteria have different appetites for different hydrocarbons, but they can work beautifully in concert together to clean up polluted water,” Gutierrez said.

Billings Gazette | 10 May 2016

Special Camera Puts Bakken Gas Emissions in Clearer Focus

Gas emissions from the Bakken are having a global impact on the atmosphere, a recent study found, but health regulators say new technology they’re using to inspect oilfield sites should lead to a dramatic improvement.

Rene Heredia Nieves, environmental scientist with the North Dakota Department of Health, uses a FLIR camera to inspect a well site north of Killdeer, N.D. Photo courtesy of North Dakota Department of Health.

The North Dakota Department of Health recently began using a USD 100,000 camera that uses infrared technology to detect methane, ethane, and other emissions that leak from well sites.

“The huge advantage is that you now see any emissions that are coming out, which were previously invisible to your eye,” said Jim Semerad, with the health department’s Air Quality Division.

Natural gas produced in the Bakken as a byproduct of oil production is known as a “wet” gas, meaning it is rich in natural gas liquids such as propane, butane and ethane.

“They can be beneficial if they’re captured and separated out, but they can also go directly into the atmosphere if the controls aren’t there or if the controls aren’t working properly,” said David Glatt, chief of the Environmental Health Section.

On an individual basis, a Bakken oil and gas well is not a significant contributor to emissions, Semerad said.

But multiply that by 13,000 wells in North Dakota, and the impact can be substantial.

“The sheer numbers have grown such that we have to take a harder look at them,” Semerad said.

US Geological Survey | 10 May 2016

Evidence of Unconventional Oil and Gas Wastewater Found in Surface Waters Near Underground Injection Site

Evidence indicating the presence of waste waters from unconventional oil and gas production was found in surface waters and sediments near an underground injection well near Fayetteville, West Virginia, according to two recent studies by the US Geological Survey (USGS), the University of Missouri, and Duke University.

These are the first published studies to demonstrate water-quality impacts to a surface stream due to activities at an unconventional oil and gas wastewater deep well injection disposal site. The studies did not assess how the waste waters were able to migrate from the disposal site to the surface stream. The unconventional oil and gas waste water that was injected in the site came from coalbed methane and shale gas wells.

“Deep well injection is widely used by industry for the disposal of waste waters produced during unconventional oil and gas extraction,” said USGS scientist Denise Akob, lead author on the current study. “Our results demonstrate that activities at disposal facilities can potentially impact the quality of adjacent surface waters.”