HSE NOW articles are available to SPE members.
Login Now

Coast Guard Says Gulf Cleanup Efforts Are Far From Over

Source: Fuel Fix | 21 April 2014

The Coast Guard is crying foul at BP’s statement this week that active cleanup efforts to remove oil along the Gulf Coast shorelines have ended.

While BP claims it has reached a “milestone” in the cleanup process, the Coast Guard says it’s “far from over.”

The semantic squabble began late 15 April after the Coast Guard changed the way it is handling 3 miles of Louisiana coastline where oil consistently turns up.

The Coast Guard opened case files with the National Response Center (NRC) to address reports of oil in those regions, moving the case from the specifically tasked Gulf Incident Management Team that has overseen the cleanup, said Petty Officer First Class Michael Anderson, a spokesman for the management team.

“From the Coast Guard’s point of view, we’re still doing active cleanup operations,” Anderson said. “We’ve had about 1,000 NRC reports across the Gulf Coast in the last 6 months, and those triggered cleanup efforts.”

The Coast Guard said it is beginning routine inspections 17 April and expects continue to clean up the shores, and that moving the cases to the National Response Center is standard procedure in spill cases.

Study Identifies Shale Well Pads With High Methane Emissions

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 16 April 2014

High levels of the greenhouse gas methane were found above shale gas wells at a production point not thought to be an important emissions source, according to a study jointly led by Purdue and Cornell universities. The findings could have implications for the evaluation of the environmental impacts from natural gas production.

The study, which is one of only a few to use a so-called “top down” approach that measures methane gas levels in the air above wells, identified seven individual well pads with high emission levels and established their stage in the shale-gas development process.

The high-emitting wells made up less than 1% of the total number of wells in the area and were all found to be in the drilling stage, a preproduction stage not previously associated with significant emissions.

EPA Reports Falling Levels of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Source: EPA | 15 April 2014

The US Environmental Protection Agency EPA released its annual report called the Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks (Inventory) on 15 April. This report tracks total annual US emissions and removals by source, economic sector, and greenhouse gas going back to 1990 up to 2012. The EPA uses national energy data, data on national agricultural activities, and other national statistics to provide a comprehensive accounting of total greenhouse gas emissions for all man-made sources in the United States. The EPA also collects greenhouse gas emissions data from individual facilities and suppliers of certain fossil fuels and industrial gases through the Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program.

The key findings of the 1990-2012 U.S. Inventory include:

  • In 2012, US greenhouse gas emissions totaled 6,526 million metric tons CO2 Eq.
  • US emissions decreased by 3.4% from 2011 to 2012. Recent trends can be attributed to multiple factors including reduced emissions from electricity generation, improvements in fuel efficiency in vehicles with reductions in miles traveled, and year-to-year changes in the prevailing weather.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions in 2012 were 10% below 2005 levels.


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.”