Maintaining Regulatory Compliance in an Oil Industry Acquisition

Source: Technical Response Planning | 30 October 2014

Oil companies are not stagnant entities. Every year, the industry experiences acquisitions, mergers, and systemic transformations. The dynamic nature of the energy sector requires environmental, health, and safety departments, as well as facility managers, to periodically review and adjust their approach to emergency management and regulatory compliance.

Whether a facility is located in the US or abroad, ensuring compliance, employee safety, and an effective response requires a streamlined, coordinated, and exercised response plan. All response plans, including spill prevention, control, and countermeasures and facility response plans, within the corporate enterprise should address site-specific facility details, applicable and tested response processes, and standardized companywide best practices while maintaining location-specific regulatory compliance. A customizable response plan template can enable the development of a streamlined, site-specific preparedness program that consistently delivers company-standard guidelines and practices while providing a medium for rapid assimilation of merging or acquired facilities.

Texas A&M Research Could Lead to Safer, Greener Wells

Source: The Peninsula | 22 October 2014

A research project led by a Texas A&M University at Qatar petroleum engineering faculty member could lead to safer, more environmentally friendly wells for the oil and gas industry.

Mahmood Amani, associate professor in the Petroleum Engineering Program, said a new testing procedure developed by him and his colleagues could help the petroleum industry ensure the safety of their wells and make sure the wells don’t leak chemicals into groundwater.

Dilemma in Marcellus Shale: How To Dispose of Radioactive Oil and Gas Waste

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | 15 October 2014

A few months ago, a Marcellus Shale operator approached Leong Ying, business development manager at the radiation measurement division of Thermo Fisher Scientific, with a problem.

The driller, whom Ying declined to name, was trying to dispose of oil and gas waste at area landfills but the trucks kept tripping radiation alarms.

Rejected trucks had to be sent back to well pads or taken out of state, both costly options. It was happening enough that it started nudging the company’s bottom line, Ying said.

“Once you hit them in the pocket, then they stand up and take notice,” he said.

Ying’s company is marketing a new radiation detector that can instantly categorize the different types of radioactive materials present in waste and their concentrations.

Today, the most likely solution to deal with radioactive oil and gas waste is to dilute it with nonradioactive materials, such as soil, and then send it to local landfills.

Ying said his client has built a multimillion-dollar facility specifically designed to treat such waste using a reverse osmosis process, which separates the water from the solids, where the radioactivity is concentrated. Those solids are then either spread out across truck loads, diluted, and disposed of at local landfills or taken to specialty facilities.

In the first half of this year, 421 trucks carrying oil and gas waste tripped radiation alarms at Pennsylvania landfills, according to the state Department of Environmental Protection. All but two of those trucks eventually dumped their waste at those landfills.

World’s First Carbon Capture Power Plant Sends CO2 for Oil Recovery

Source: The Guardian | 7 October 2014

Canada has switched on the first large-scale coal-fired power plant fitted with a technology that proponents say enables the burning of fossil fuels without tipping the world into a climate catastrophe.

Boundary Dam CCS power plant in Canada. Photo courtesy of SaskPowerCCS.

The project, the first commercial-scale plant equipped with carbon capture and storage technology, was held up by the coal industry as a real life example that it is possible to go on burning the dirtiest of fossil fuels while avoiding dangerous global warming.

Captured CO2 from the project will be pumped underground and sold to the Cenovus oil company for use in priming nearby oil fields, or buried in geological formations.

Saskatchewan’s state-owned electricity provider was due to cut the ribbon on the USD 1.3 billion Canadian project on 2 October. But officials from SaskPower International told guests invited to the ceremony the 110-megawatt plant went live on 30 November.

The Boundary Dam power plant promises to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 90% by trapping C02 underground before the gas reaches the atmosphere, making its opening a milestone in the coal industry’s efforts to remain viable in a low-carbon economy.

The company said the project would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 million t/a, or the equivalent of taking 250,000 cars off the road, in one of the more fossil fuel-dependent regions of Canada.

“Saskatchewan is number one in the world,” said Brad Page, the chief executive of the Global CCS Institute, said. “This is an incredibly important event from our perspective.”

Read the full story here.

Partnership Achieves Significant Water Recycling in Eagle Ford

Source: Rigzone | 22 September 2014

Officials with Dow Water & Process Solutions and Omni Water Solutions, an Austin-based water treatment technology company, expect the number of barrels of water treated at an Eagle Ford project to pass the 1 million bbl mark by the end of 2014.

The partnership of technology between the two companies has allowed for the treatment of over 725,000 B/D of water at an oil and gas project in Karnes County, Texas, since the project began in June 2013. The project operator was having issues with boron, which occurs naturally in produced water in the play, and was interfering with the performance of the customer’s fracking and gel systems.

“They needed a way to get the boron levels down,” said Warren Sumner, chief executive officer of Omni.

Combining Omni’s HIPPO mobile water treatment unit with Dow’s portfolio of membrane technology is allowing the customer to do something innovative and fairly difficult technically—taking out produced levels of boron from water for reuse without affecting cross link fluids in their chemistry while making a tailored clean brine product used for workovers, Sumner said, adding that he is not aware of any other companies doing this in the oilfield.

Omni is using membranes supplied by Dow in the operator’s water treatment system to address the operator’s issue at the lowest possible price.

“We are using ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis membranes, depending on how our customer wants to use their produced water,” Sumner explained.

Chevron Becomes First Company To Earn Sustainability Certification

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 22 September 2014

The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) has certified Chevron as the first company to successfully complete the Center’s rigorous evaluation and verification process.

Chevron has earned full CSSD certification against all 15 of the Center’s performance standards that serve as the foundation for CSSD’s recently established independent third-party evaluation and verification program.

These standards center on operational performance as part of the producer’s environmental stewardship and continuous improvement processes.

Statoil, GE, and Ferus Team Up on Flare Gas Solution

Source: Scandinavian Oil-Gas Magazine | 15 September 2014

A joint venture of GE and Ferus Natural Gas Fuels (Ferus NGF), along with Statoil, announced the planned expansion of a pilot project to capture flare gas and use it to power up to six of Statoil’s drill rigs and one fracturing fleet in North Dakota.

The expansion is the first step by Statoil to move into full commercial adoption of the GE and Ferus NGF joint venture’s Last Mile Fueling Solution, which is expected to reduce emissions and provide cost-savings and logistics solutions for the company’s Bakken oilfield operations.

Study Blames Faulty Casing, Not Fracturing, for Drinking Water Contamination

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 15 September 2014

Faulty well integrity, not hydraulic fracturing deep underground, is the primary cause of drinking water contamination from shale gas extraction in parts of Pennsylvania and Texas, according to a new study by researchers from five universities.

The scientists from Duke, Ohio State, Stanford, Dartmouth, and the University of Rochester published their peer-reviewed study Sept. 15 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Using noble gas and hydrocarbon tracers, they analyzed the gas content of more than 130 drinking water wells in the two states.

“We found eight clusters of wells—seven in Pennsylvania and one in Texas—with contamination, including increased levels of natural gas from the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania and from shallower, intermediate layers in both states,” said Thomas H. Darrah, assistant professor of earth science at Ohio State, who led the study while he was a research scientist at Duke.

“Our data clearly show that the contamination in these clusters stems from well-integrity problems such as poor casing and cementing,” Darrah said.

“These results appear to rule out the possibility that methane has migrated up into drinking water aquifers because of horizontal drilling or hydraulic fracturing, as some people feared,” said Avner Vengosh, professor of geochemistry and water quality at Duke.

Hydraulic Fracturing Companies Begin Slow Shift to Recycling Wastewater

Source: The Dallas Morning News | 19 August 2014

It is not just oil and natural gas that comes out of the ground here. For every barrel of oil pumped to the surface, more than another barrel of water from deep within the earth comes up alongside it.

With a hue that ranges from gray to black and an odor that resembles gasoline, the water is typically pumped into disposal wells thousands of feet underground. All the while, hydraulic fracturing operations pull billions of gallons of fresh water a year from aquifers that also supply water to cities and farms.

With a years-long drought depleting water supplies across prime drilling areas in south and west Texas, pressure on oil and gas companies has been ramping up. Early indications are the industry is slowly turning toward recycling its own wastewater, along with highly salty and undrinkable brackish water, to curb the strain of the hydraulic fracturing boom.

Data is hard to come by, but estimates are that, in places like the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin, 10 to 20% of the water being used now comes from recycling. And that number is expected to at least double over the next decade, said Marcus Gay, a water analyst at research firm IHS who has since left the company.

Apache, the Houston-based oil company, says it is no longer using fresh water at a 35,000-acre field in the Wolfcamp, one of the region’s hottest oil plays. Water there is so scarce that residents in nearby Barnhart saw their town well go dry last year.

Fasken Oil and Ranch, located outside Midland, expects to be completely off fresh water by the end of the year. Spread across 165,000 acres of sand and shrubs, the ranch has seen some of its cattle wells go dry and has been slowly developing its water recycling operation.

Through an elaborate process that involves electrodes, chemical treatments, and simple gravity, impurities are removed, and what was once wastewater is piped into a holding pond the size of six football fields. Jimmy Davis Jr., who runs the oil and gas operations at Fasken, said it might be more expensive than buying fresh water, but not by much. And the Fasken family, which bought the land in 1913, is worried about how much water is left.

“This family’s going to have this land hundreds of more years,” he said. “The technology’s nothing new. It’s the same thing they’ve been using for years in Africa to clean the drinking water.”

Check-6 Deploys New Well Control Training System at Texas Tech University

Source: Drilling Contractor | 19 August 2014

Check-6 will install three well control competency assurance training systems (CATS) at Texas Tech University’s Terry Fuller Petroleum Engineering Research Building. More than USD 250,000 in Check-6 training software will be added to the Bob L. Herd Department of Petroleum Engineering’s Chevron Well Control Simulation Lab.

Texas Tech University recently signed an agreement with Check-6 to deploy three Well Control Competency Assurance Training Systems (CATS) into a classroom environment.

“Sophisticated learning platforms, such as Well Control CATS are playing a critical role in the development of today’s digital oilfields, and we are pleased to deploy high-tech, hands-on training systems to help prepare future petroleum engineers for real-world situations,” said Jason “Mac” McAlister, chief operating officer for Check-6 Training Systems.

Each Well Control CAT System features a 150°-dome display, which delivers academic and simulation modules designed to keep crews and students sharp on the critical fundamentals of primary and secondary well control for both surface and sub-sea scenarios.

Inherent Flaws in Risk Matrices May Preclude Them From Being Best Practices

Source: Journal of Petroleum Technology | 18 August 2014

Risk matrices (RMs) are among the more commonly used tools for risk prioritization and management in the oil and gas industry. RMs are recommended by several influential standardization bodies, and a literature search found more than 100 papers that document the application of RMs in a risk-management context. This paper illustrates and discusses inherent flaws in RMs and their potential effect on risk prioritization and mitigation, addressing several previously undocumented RM flaws.


In the oil and gas industry, risk–intensive decisions are made daily. In their attempt to implement a sound and effective risk-management culture, many companies use RMs and specify this in “best practice” documents. Furthermore, RMs are recommended in numerous international and national standards such as those from the International Organization for Standardization (ISO); NORSOK, the Norwegian standards organization; and the American Petroleum Institute (API). The popularity of RMs has been attributed in part to their visual appeal, which is claimed to improve communications.

Despite these claimed advantages, the authors were unable to find instances of published scientific studies demonstrating that RMs improve risk–management decisions. However, several studies indicate the opposite—that RMs are conceptually and fundamentally flawed.

The complete paper summarizes the known flaws of RMs, identifies several previously undiscussed problems with RMs, and illustrates that these shortcomings can be seen in SPE papers that either demonstrate or recommend the use of RMs.