HSE NOW articles are available to SPE members.
Login Now

Scientist Urges More Distance Between Water Wells, Drilling Rigs

Source: The Baltimore Sun | 15 April 2014

Maryland regulators are weighing some of the strictest limits in the country on shale gas drilling, but a scientist suggested on 14 April that they still may not go far enough to protect drinking water wells from contamination by methane leaking from drilling sites.

Gas drilling rigs would generally have to be at least 2,000 ft from public or private water wells under rules being considered by the Maryland Department of the Environment, officials said on 14 April during a meeting of the governor’s advisory commission on the issue.

But Avner Vengosh, a researcher at Duke University, told commission members that studies he and his colleagues have done in states bordering Maryland and elsewhere found that domestic water wells were more likely to be fouled with potentially explosive levels of methane gas if they were within 1 km—3,280 ft—of a drilling rig. Water wells farther away rarely had problems, he said.

ExxonMobil Releases Reports on Managing Climate Risk

Source: ExxonMobil | 11 April 2014

All energy sources, including carbon-based fuels, are necessary to meet future global energy demand growth as society manages the risks of climate change, ExxonMobil said in two reports to shareholders outlining the company’s business planning and risk-assessment practices.

“Our analysis and those of independent agencies confirms our long-standing view that all viable energy sources will be essential to meet increasing demand growth that accompanies expanding economies and rising living standards,” said William Colton, ExxonMobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning.

“It is equally essential that society manages the risk of climate change by increasing energy efficiency and by investing in research into technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

The reports to shareholders outline how the company plans capital expenditures, assesses and plans for policies limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and works to reduce emissions. They also include information such as distribution of reserves by asset location and type.


Shell Joins Fight Against Climate Change

Source: The Hill | 11 April 2014

Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell is supporting strong cuts to greenhouse gas emissions.

Shell signed a nonbinding document, called the Trillion Tonne Communique, along with 70 other companies such as Adidas and Unilever, which calls for ambitious timelines to bring global greenhouse gas emissions to “net zero” by the end of the century.

“We recognize that over the long term, net global emissions must trend toward zero. Both of our New Lens Scenarios show that this objective can be realized by the end of this century, but not without action by governments to stimulate changes in the energy system and considerable deployment of carbon capture and storage,” a spokesman for Shell said.

The communique is sponsored by the Prince of Wales’ Corporate Leaders Group, which brings business leaders from across the globe together to address climate change.

Statoil Uses New Oil-Sands Technology Amid Rising Carbon Dioxide

Source: Bloomberg | 10 April 2014

Statoil expects to decrease carbon-dioxide emissions per barrel from its Canadian oil-sands projects by 20% within 6 years, responding to environmental criticism of the crude production method.

Statoil’s division in Alberta produces bitumen, a sticky form of oil that’s softened before extraction with steam created in natural-gas-powered generators. Norway’s biggest energy producer said yesterday that carbon intensity from its oil-sands operations rose 25% from a year earlier to 69.7 kg of carbon dioxide per barrel.

Statoil is applying solvents to its steam-assisted techniques and will use valves to better direct steam to areas that need it, Staale Tungesvik, president of Canadian operations, said. The Stavanger-based company also is considering different drilling techniques and more efficient water-recycling processes.

“The difference between oil sands and conventional oil production is that we use gas to heat water to create steam, so the footprint of COis very much out of the generation of steam,” Tungesvik said. “We believe that we have identified technologies that will help us reach our target of reducing CO2 intensity by 20% by 2020.”

Water Recycling Companies Getting a Foothold in the Eagle Ford

Source: Fuel Fix | 9 April 2014

At a freshly-cleared 11-acre site, oilfield water flows from tank to tank. It starts off opaque and yellowish, heavy with salt, iron, manganese, calcium, and residual oil.

But after about a day, it’s so clear a jar of it looks like tap water—and it’s clean enough to reuse in oilfield operations.

Water—and how it’s sourced—has been an increasingly hot topic in the oil patch. Drilling a well in the Eagle Ford shale and other tight formations requires several million gallons of water.

But Cobb & Associates, which recently opened a site just south of Pearsall, is among the companies cleaning up oilfield water and saying it can compete with the cost of pumping fresh water from a well. It uses a proprietary process that causes any solids in the water to coagulate, clumping together and falling to the bottom.

“We can take the salt water their wells are already producing and clean it up,” said Jeremy Roberts, yard manager with Cobb’s Pearsall location. “The technology is there. There’s virtually no reason for the oil companies to use all of the freshwater they’re pumping out of the ground.”

Hospital Disinfectant Gains Ground as Water Treatment Solution

Source: Rigzone | 9 April 2014

A chemical product designed to kill bacteria in hospitals is gaining traction in the oil and gas industry as a solution for treating hydraulic fracturing water.

Excelyte, which has been successfully tested on flowback water from the Piceance and Marcellus shale basins, is being tested in eastern Utah’s Uintah basin for use in hydraulic fracturing, well maintenance, and treatment of flowback water, said Integrated Environmental Technologies CEO David LaVance.

The water treatment solution is similar to bleach in the sense that chlorine is the active ingredient, but unlike bleach, which is caustic with a high alkaline content, Excelyte is pH-neutral and benign to humans. However, the product is deadly to aerobic and anaerobic bacteria in water used in hydraulic fracturing. Excelyte is also effective in killing viruses,  LaVance said. Excelyte also is nontoxic and undetectable 90 days after use.

UN to Oil Industry: You Can Solve Climate Change

Source: The Christian Science Monitor | 7 April 2014

Major oil and gas companies have an opportunity to lead the global fight against climate change, according to Christiana Figueres, the United Nations’ climate change chief. Traditional energy firms say they are already cutting emissions, but Figueres offered both environmental and economic reasons for doing more.

EPA Says US Review of LNG Export Plant Should Weigh Effects of Shale Gas Drilling

Source: Reuters | 1 April 2014

The US environmental regulator has raised concerns that a federal review of Sempra Energy’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) export project did not include an assessment of the potential effects of more natural gas drilling.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued its finding earlier in March. It urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to weigh indirect greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental effects that would flow from the increase in gas drilling needed to support exports from the Cameron plant in Louisiana.

The Department of Energy approved exports from the project in February, but the plant must still get clearances from FERC.

The EPA’s assessment is a fresh angle in the long running debate of how much LNG the United States should export.

FERC should “consider the extent to which implementation of the proposed project could increase the demand for domestic natural gas extraction, as well as potential environmental impacts associated with the potential increased production of natural gas,” the EPA said in response to the commission’s draft review of the project.

The finding, dated 3 March, was released by FERC late on 28 March.

Canadian Institute Invests in Study of Shale Gas on Water Quality

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 20 March 2014

The New Brunswick Energy Institute is investing more than USD 500,000 in an important groundwater study as its first research initiative. The study will provide the necessary baseline data needed to assess the impacts, if any, of shale gas development on domestic well water quality.

David Besner, interim chairperson of the New Brunswick Energy Institute, said, “It’s clear that people have concerns about their groundwater supply as it relates to resource development, and we’re here to provide scientific data that will be useful for New Brunswickers and provide a better understanding about water quality and conditions.”

Dresser-Rand Earns Certificate From Environmental Protection Agency

Source: Dresser-Rand | 20 March 2014

Dresser-Rand, a global supplier of rotating equipment solutions to the oil, gas, petrochemical, power generation, and process industries, has been honored by the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Combined Heat and Power Partnership with the 2013 Certificate of Avoided GHG Emissions.

The award recognizes companies that successfully reduced carbon pollution using combined heat and power (CHP) systems. Dresser-Rand received the certificate based on seven projects that avoided an estimated 23,400 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions since 2007, compared with conventional energy sources.

The achievement also recognized that Dresser-Rand avoided more than 5,710 metric tons of emissions in 2013—an amount equal to the generation of electricity used annually by 786 homes.

“At Dresser-Rand, it has always been our goal to ‘bring energy and the environment into harmony,’” said Chris Nagle, general manager of Power North America for Dresser-Rand. “This certificate from the EPA is just another example of how important it is to us as an organization to be environmentally responsible.”

Dresser Rand is one of the EPA’s CHP partners and serves the CHP market with packaged or site-built CHP systems based on its reciprocating gas engine, gas turbine, and steam turbine product lines. The estimates calculated by the EPA compare emissions from each CHP system to the total emissions from conventional separate heat and power sources, such as grid electricity and on-site thermal generation.

Latest EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory May Not Reflect Full Scope of Oil and Gas Emissions

Source: Breaking Energy | 17 March 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released its draft inventory of annual US greenhouse gas emissions. Reporting 2012 data, the inventory estimates methane emissions coming from natural gas and petroleum systems at approximately 7.6 million metric tons—that is enough natural gas to provide energy to over 7 million homes annually. This new estimate when compared with last year’s report, which estimates emissions for the 2011 calendar year, shows overall methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems are 1.2% lower. Although this seems like good news, the new data is no cause for complacency; it is important to understand the cause of the changes, which requires closer examination.

The draft inventory introduces some new methodological changes that reduce estimated emissions from previous years. The primary change was driven by the way EPA estimates emissions from gas well completions and workovers, the steps that follow hydraulic fracturing and clear liquids and sand from the well before production begins.

Report Says Wastewater Injection Could Raise Earthquake Risks in California

Source: Fuel Fix | 14 March 2014

A potential boom in hydraulic fracturing in California would increase the risk of earthquakes in the state, according to a report that environmental groups released on 13 March.

Oil companies have shown great interest in California’s Monterey shale, which could hold more than 15 billion bbl of oil. The Monterey shale is located under the San Joaquin Valley, stretching across most of central California.

“Oil and gas production results in billions of gallons of contaminated wastewater that is often disposed of in underground injection wells,” according to the report, from Earthworks, Clean Water Action and the Center for Biological Diversity. “In many parts of the eastern and central United States where fracking and wastewater injection have boomed, earthquake activity has increased dramatically. Some regions have experienced a 10-fold increase in earthquake activity.”