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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.”

Industry, Government, and Environmentalists Debate Shale Gas Revolution

Source: Houston Business Journal | 11 March 2014

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and the Environmental Defense Fund joined energy executives in supporting the unconventional energy production revolution as long as everything is done to eliminate accidents and minimize methane emissions.

Speaking at the IHS Energy CERAWeek in Houston, Moniz said the administration supports the shale gas boom as part of the president’s “all of the above” energy strategy. But, at the same time, the government is working long-term on “decreasing oil dependence.”

“The economic impact has been tremendous,” Moniz said of the shale boom. “The energy revolution has led the erection of the ladders of opportunity in terms of creating very good jobs in the economy.”

He also credited the natural gas surge with improving “energy security” and decreasing carbon emissions by lowering the reliance on dirtier fuels.

Drillers Can Plug Methane Leaks at Wells Affordably, Study Says

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek | 6 March 2014

Methane leaks from oil and natural gas production can be cut by 40% for less than 1 cent per thousand cubic feet of gas, according to a study backed by an environmental group.

By plugging leaks in compressors and pipes, producers can cut emissions of methane, a potent heat-trapping gas, according to a report set for release today by the Environmental Defense Fund and ICF International, a consultancy specializing in energy and the environment. The USD 2.2 billion cost would be offset over time by the sale of captured gas, the study estimates.

Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 21 times more potent at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, leading environmental groups to call for stricter controls to help curb climate change. Producers say they are addressing the issue and that over-regulation could slow the energy boom that has lowered prices for consumers.

Apache: Hydraulic Fracturing Firms Need To Recycle More Water

Source: Tulsa World | 6 March 2014

Drilling and exploration companies have to start recycling more water used in hydraulic fracturing if they don’t want to draw environmental regulations, warned Rob Johnston, executive vice president of the central region for Apache.

“If the EPA were to get involved, this would impact us all pretty quickly,” Johnston said 3 March.

“In the end, this is not a sustainable practice, and something is going to have to change.”

The news comes as the Environmental Protection Agency works on a Congressionally delegated report about the effect of hydraulic fracturing on drinking and groundwater. Last month the agency issued new rules on the use of diesel in fracturing.

Proposed US Energy Rules Would Shield Whales

Source: ABC News | 28 February 2014

Proposed federal environmental guidelines released 27 February would protect endangered North Atlantic right whales from offshore seismic testing aimed at sizing up oil and gas reserves from Delaware to Florida.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management outlined that measure and other protections intended to shield marine life if the government allows the testing, which could be a first step in the development of an offshore oil industry in Atlantic waters.

The Obama administration delayed the scheduled leasing of offshore tracts in Virginia and other Atlantic states following the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The leasing was to begin in 2011 but was pushed back to 2017.

The seismic testing is intended to apply new technology to areas that have not been studied in more than 3 decades, and then with equipment that had limited capabilities to detect energy resources hidden below the ocean floor. The energy industry has said the new, more sophisticated seismic surveys would not only give a better picture of oil and gas deposits but also eliminate areas that should not be drilled.

While the industry estimates that oil and natural gas development in the outer continental shelf would create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next couple decades, ocean protection groups contend marine life shouldn’t be exposed to a blast zone up 50 miles off the coast. They have pushed for a delay in the environmental guidelines until a key study is completed.

“By failing to consider relevant science, the Obama administration’s decision could be a death sentence for many marine mammals,” said Jacqueline Savitz, vice president for US Oceans at Oceana.

In a statement, BOEM Director Tommy P. Beaudreau said the department is committed to “balancing the need for understanding offshore energy resources with the protection of the human and marine environment using the best available science as the basis of this environmental review.”

Oil Spill Technology Research Continues for Arctic Exploration

Source: Rigzone | 19 February 2014

As the global oil and gas industry turns its attention to Arctic exploration and production, research by industry and academia continues into Arctic oil spill technology.

The Arctic Oil Spill Response Joint Industry Program (JIP) last week released the findings of its research efforts into in-situ burning (ISB) in ice-affected waters and the fate of dispersed oil under ice.

Over the past several decades, a significant body of scientific research and testing has been carried out of techniques and technologies available for oil spill response in icy conditions, including the Arctic. The Arctic Oil Spill Response JIP was launched in January 2012 to further build on existing research, increase understanding of potential impacts of oil on the Arctic marine environment, and improve the technologies and methodologies for oil spill response.

The JIP includes six technical working groups focused on dispersants, environmental effects, trajectory modeling, remote sensing, mechanical recovery, and in-situ burning. Each group is headed by a subject matter expert experienced in oil spill response research and development. The JIP also has a field research group to examine opportunities for the JIP to participate in field releases or research to gather scientific and engineering data needed to validate certain response technologies and strategies

Former Obama Official: Hydraulic Fracturing Has Never Been an Environmental Problem

Source: Fuel Fix | 11 February 2014

Former US Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar said on 5 February that he believes hydraulic fracturing is safe and the energy industry should work to convince the public that it doesn’t pose a safety threat.

Salazar spoke in Houston at the North American Prospect Expo, a 3-day conference where landowners from around the globe look to make deals with oil, gas, and pipeline companies.

“From my opinion and from what I’ve seen …, I believe hydraulic fracking is, in fact, safe,” Salazar said.

Salazar said the oil and gas industry must work to educate the public of the technology and “make sure people are not scared.”