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Environment

New Study Suggests US Has Greatly Underestimated Methane Emissions

Source: The New York Times | 27 November 2013

A comprehensive new study of atmospheric levels of methane, an important greenhouse gas released by leaky oil and gas operations and livestock, has found much higher levels over the United States than those estimated by the Environmental Protection Agency and an international greenhouse gas monitoring effort. The paper, “Anthropogenic Emissions of Methane in the United States,” is being published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

The study, combining ground and aerial sampling of the gas with computer modeling, is the most comprehensive “top down” look so far at methane levels over the United States, providing a vital check on “bottom up” approaches, which have tallied estimates for releases from a host of sources—ranging from livestock operations to gas wells.

 

Water UK and UKOOG To Minimize Effect of Shale Gas Development on Water Resources

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 27 November 2013

Water UK, which represents the water industry, and the UK Onshore Operators Group (UKOOG), the onshore oil and gas industry’s representative body, are to work together to help minimize the effect of onshore oil and gas development in the UK on the country’s water resources.

Water UK and UKOOG signed a memorandum of understanding that ensures their respective members will cooperate throughout the shale gas exploration and extraction process.

A key aim of the agreement is to give the public greater confidence and reassurance that everything will be done to minimize the effects on water resources and the environment.

BP Releases Gulf of Mexico Environmental Data

Source: Fuel Fix | 19 November 2013

BP on 18 November released a massive amount of environmental data it uses in its efforts to clean up the Gulf of Mexico, where the company’s Macondo well spilled millions of barrels of oil in 2010.

The company is planning to publish data on everything from aquatic life and birds to Gulf shorelines and environmental toxicology, but BP’s first data dump includes 2.3 million lines of water chemistry data and measures the amount of crude-related chemicals that were in the ocean. BP also published data on the composition and degradation of the oil released from its well.

The data—published on a new website on 18 November—follows another website the company launched this month to “set the record straight” on the Gulf. The second site is an attempt to allow interested outsiders to use the environmental data in scientific studies or to come to their own conclusions about the Gulf, BP said.

 

British Minister Says Hydraulic Fracturing Is Safe and Coming Soon

Source: UPI | 12 November 2013

A British government minister said “there are genuine concerns” but shale gas fracturing is safe and will come soon, possibly throughout England.

Michael Fallon, minister of state in the Department of Energy and Climate Change, said a soon-to-be released report by Water UK will conclude hydraulic fracturing does not pose a serious threat to the country’s drinking water, the Daily Telegraph reported.

The report follows a report released in October by Public Health England that concluded that hydraulic fracturing was safe.

More Oil and Gas Drillers Turn to Water Recycling

Source: Fuel Fix | 12 November 2013

When the rain stopped falling in Texas, the prairie grass yellowed, the soil cracked, and oil drillers were confronted with a crisis. After years of easy access to cheap, plentiful water, the land they prized for its vast petroleum wealth was starting to dry up.

At first, the drought that took hold a few years ago seemed to threaten the economic boom that arose from hydraulic fracturing, a drilling method that uses huge amounts of high-pressure, chemical-laced water to free oil and natural gas trapped deep in underground rocks. But drillers have found a way to get by with much less water: They recycle it using systems that not long ago they may have eyed with suspicion.

“This was a dramatic change to the practices that the industry used for many, many years,” said Paul Schlosberg, cofounder and chief financial officer of Water Rescue Services, the company that runs recycling services for Fasken Oil and Ranch in West Texas, which is now 90% toward its goal of not using any freshwater for fracturing.

Before the drought, “water was prevalent, it was cheap and it was taken for granted,” he added.

Just a few years ago, many drillers suspected water recyclers were trying to sell an unproven idea designed to drain money from multimillion-dollar businesses. Now the system is helping drillers use less freshwater and dispose of less wastewater. Recycling is rapidly becoming a popular and economic solution for a burgeoning industry.

The change is happening so swiftly that regulators are racing to keep up and in some cases taking steps to make it easier for drillers to recycle.

Energy Ministers Endorse CCS as Key to Combating Climate Change

Source: Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum | 8 November 2013

Energy and environment ministers from the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum’s (CSLF) member nations endorsed carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies as a key component of international plans to combat climate change. Their endorsement is viewed as affirmation that carbon capture and storage must be an integral component of any international plan to combat climate change.

In a communiqué released following day-long discussions, CSLF member country ministers and heads of delegation affirmed that CCS is an indispensable element of any effective response to climate change. The ministers stressed, “we are convinced that the demonstration and global deployment of carbon capture and storage must be accelerated, and we are committed to taking necessary actions individually and collaboratively to make this happen.”

CCS is a group of technologies for capturing carbon dioxide, a major greenhouse gas, emitted by power plants or industrial facilities and safely injecting it deep underground into suitable, permanent geologic storage sites. It is increasingly viewed by international experts as an essential part of a portfolio of responses by the world to effective management and reduction of human-based carbon dioxide emissions.

The communique’ points out that CCS is a low-carbon technology option critical to the global quest to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere, and CCS is the only climate change mitigation technology option available to significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from both coal and gas-fired power plants and a range of industrial processes including cement and steel manufacturing.

While valuable experience has been gained during the past decades, the next 7 years are critically important for creating the conditions for CCS to be ready for large-scale deployment by the end of the decade, according to the ministers. “It is clear that significant progress has been made on CCS, challenges remain, but these are challenges that we can—and will—overcome.” The ministers stressed that their common goal is to ensure that the conditions are right for completing CCS projects currently under construction or in advanced stages of planning and that the number of new large CCS demonstrations is increased by 2020 to enable future commercial deployment in the early 2020s.

Three Reasons Why We Should, Why We Aren’t, And How We Can Reduce Gas Flaring

Source: Oil and Gas iQ | 8 November 2013

Natural Gas flaring has been a constant since the oil business began, but now the tables are turning on this common practice. Find out why and how we can cut flaring to a bare minimum and exactly why we’re only broaching the subject now.

Who Is Watching Oil Pipeline Safety in the United States?

Source: OilPrice.com | 1 November 2013

North Dakota’s governor said he was frustrated with the way in which federal regulators were monitoring pipeline safety. An oil spill in the west of the state went unnoticed until a farmer discovered it in his field last month. Regulators, the governor said, don’t monitor rural areas the same way they do elsewhere. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, supporters of a controversial pipeline bill say more infrastructure is needed and fast in order to keep up with the oil boom under way in the central United States. That measure, however, does little to allay the safety concerns about the spider web of oil and natural gas pipelines already in place across the country.

“[The federal] Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration requires the use of enhanced pipeline monitoring and control technology in locations considered ‘high-consequence areas’ such as cities and near drinking water supplies,” North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple said. “Rural areas don’t necessarily get the same level of oversight from PHMSA and that is concerning.”

Ohio Finds No Water-Well Problems From Hydraulic Fracturing

Source: The Akron Beacon Journal | 25 October 2013

Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in the Utica shale has not created any major problems with Ohio’s drinking water, according to data from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Its Division of Oil and Gas Resources Management has investigated 183 water-well complaints that Ohio landowners filed from 2010 through mid-October. Only six water supplies were affected by drilling over the nearly four-year period, state spokesman Mark Bruce said.

All of those problems stemmed from old, vertical-only wells, not today’s big horizontal wells that rely on fracturing to free natural gas, oil, and other liquids from rocks deep underground, he said.

To date, Ohio has approved 927 horizontal wells in the Utica shale formation, of which 577 had been drilled as of 12 October. A total of 164 Utica wells are in production. Thirty drilling rigs are in Ohio.

“None of the impacted water supplies were related to hydraulic fracturing or horizontal shale drilling,” Bruce said in an email.

Red, Boots and Coots: Writing the Book on Fighting Well Fires

Source: Rigzone | 14 October 2013

Well fires have been around almost as long as wells. Whether started by an act of nature, accidentally during drilling, or deliberately (like the well fires in Kuwait that were started by Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Persian Gulf War), well fires have two things in common—they are dangerous, and the wells contain a fuel source to feed them.

Because of the amount of fuel available, a well fire can burn for months and generate temperatures of more than 2,000℉. In the early 1960s, one natural gas well fire called the “Devil’s Cigarette Lighter” burned out of control in the Algerian Sahara Desert, sending flames hundreds of feet into the air. Fed by 550 MMcf of natural gas a day, the Devil’s Cigarette Lighter burned for 6 months before it was eventually extinguished, according to Sean Flynn, author of “The Big Heat.”

Fighting well fires requires the right techniques, as well as the right equipment. But most of all, fighting fires requires the right people.

Custom Designing Fracturing Fluids Enhances Water-Management Strategy

Source: E&P | 10 October 2013

The industry is becoming more creative in how it manages water to maximize efficiency in its operations while reducing environmental footprint.

Water is the base fluid—and most important component—in the process of hydraulic fracturing for shale oil and gas development in North America. With the growing demand for fracturing, oilfield service providers face significant challenges to find and use water from nonfresh sources that will work effectively with their fracturing fluids while also minimizing the impact of their operations on the environment.

One significant change in fracturing operations is that the industry needs to use more water, which requires more efficiency. As a result, the industry is constantly getting more creative in how it manages its water to maximize efficiency in its operations while reducing environmental footprint.

Colorado Finds No Floodwater Pollution From Hydraulic Fracturing

Source: The Washington Times | 9 October 2013

The environmental disaster forecast by anti-hydraulic fracturing activists after last month’s epic Colorado flooding didn’t quite materialize.

The results of water samplings conducted 26 September by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment found “no evidence of pollutants from oil and gas spills in rivers and streams affected by flooding,” according to an update released this week.

“Although much attention was focused on spills from oil and gas operations, it is reassuring the sampling shows no evidence of oil and gas pollutants,” said Dr. Larry Wolk, the department’s executive director and chief medical officer. “There were elevated E. coli levels, as we expected, in some locations.”