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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.

Water-Resource-Management Guide Offers Method for Identifying, Managing Risk

Source: Journal of Petroleum Technology | 13 August 2014

While water issues are often location- and situation-dependent, a standardized guide to water-resource management has been developed for upstream oil- and gas-production projects and operations. The guide provides environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic practitioners with a consistent and effective method to identify, assess, and manage water-resource-related risks and opportunities. The guide has four steps, each with embedded and scalable tools—data acquisition, data analysis, risk assessment, and risk management.


The availability and quality of fresh-water resources, coupled with increasingly stringent regulatory requirements in many locations, continue to challenge the oil and gas industry. Accordingly, the industry recognizes its responsibility to surrounding communities and to the environment regarding its management of fresh water. One company’s water-resource-management program is built upon a framework of principles designed to help manage interactions with water in order to

  • Protect human health and the environment
  • Consider local water needs when addressing operation requirements
  • Continuously improve technologies, practice, and performance
  • Engage stakeholders in development of sustainable water solutions

In order to provide environmental, regulatory, and socioeconomic practitioners with the knowledge and methods to implement these principles, an upstream water-resource-management guide was developed. The guide does not contain any new requirements but rather is intended to function as a road map for practitioners to help them manage water resources more effectively within the context of existing internal requirements and external considerations, constraints, and requirements.

The objectives of the guide are to

  • Enhance the quality of data gathered regarding the use of water resources
  • Identify and manage water-related risks
  • Assist in the application of appropriate technology and operational practices to improve water-use efficiency and safeguard water quality

Recommended Practice for Reliability, Technical Risk, and Integrity Management

Source: Journal of Petroleum Technology | 12 August 2014

The American Petroleum Institute Recommended Practice 17N (API RP 17N) provides a structured approach that organizations can use to manage risk and uncertainties related to reliability and integrity performance throughout the life of a project. The basic approach is simple and consistent and has the potential to reduce the financial risk of designing, manufacturing, installing, and operating subsea equipment or systems. This paper presents the principles and approaches used in API RP 17N and discusses what it is in general and why it was written. It also describes the status of its recent update.

Why API RP 17N Was Originally Developed

Throughout the 1990s and the early 2000s, there were widespread concerns relating to the reliability of subsea technologies. A number of operators of subsea fields were experiencing equipment failures that had significant adverse effects on production. Many of these failures occurred in the early stages of production and involved more than one component.

Although there are elements of chance in all accidents and failures, when actual failures are studied, the root causes always amount to a failure of management to identify, assess, or manage the risks that they faced. Moreover, the causes of failure cannot be leveled at one organization.

To ascertain the root causes, it would be necessary to address industry reliability-management practices not only during operations but also at the design stage, where there is the greatest opportunity to influence component- and system–reliability performance. Tackling the problem on a company-by–company basis was also not viable. Likewise, it was not realistic for suppliers, with a wide customer base, to invest in reliability-management practices to meet the requirements of just one or two customers in particular. What was required was some form of guidance on reliability and its management that the whole subsea industry and its supply chain could buy into. This was the reason for the development of API RP 17N.

Visualization Techniques Enhance Training, Operations, and Safety

Source: Rigzone | 28 July 2014

The latest in 3D animation and imagery are allowing oil and gas companies to enhance worker training and demonstrate technical concepts and techniques. FuelFX, a media and software company almost exclusively focused on the oil and gas industry, works with major operators, oilfield service companies and large manufacturers.

Describing the company as a broker of knowledge, FuelFX Chief Executive Officer Oliver Diaz said that cutting-edge 3D and visualization technology can allow companies to be more efficient in training workers, improving efficiency and operational safety. Founded 7 years ago, the company grew rapidly following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, when FuelFX worked with BP and other members of the Unified Command by producing daily visualizations to update the Unified Command team, the White House, and the public on the efforts, operational plans, and challenges involved in the Deepwater Horizon response.

3D imaging is not new, but this application represents a step change in communications. The need for new visualization tools stems from the fact that, most of the time, the magic in the oil and gas industry happens with things that can not be seen, or that are 5,000 ft underground, or encased in steel or in high-pressure/high-temperature environments, Diaz said.

Farmer’s Invention Could Make Installing Tank Liners Easier, More Environmentally Friendly

Source: Eagle Ford Texas | 21 July 2014

From out of a Grant County, North Dakota dairy farm comes a tireless inventor and entrepreneur who is affecting the world’s oil industry.

Seymour Volk’s family and friends say he is always thinking, always looking for a better way to do things. “No means go,” is an expression you’ll hear a lot around Seymour Volk. “Tell him something can’t be done and he’ll prove you wrong,” said his wife, Lawana Volk.

Now, some people are saying Volk’s latest invention, the Safety Clamp, makes it easier and more environmentally friendly for oil companies to install tank liners, the massive plastic tarps inside large-volume above-ground open storage tanks. Because they are easy to handle and install, Volk’s Safety Clamps are less likely to be dropped on workers below the tank rim than the traditional models now used in the oil field. Their orange powder coating helps make sure they don’t get lost to rust away in the grass near a tank. Because they are less likely to be dropped, they are also less likely to cause punctures in the plastic liners, which, in turn, helps prevent fluid loss and can help protect the environment. Because workers can install them in seconds around the rim of a tank, oil companies are saving money using his invention.

New Process Cheaply Cleans Produced Water

Source: MIT Technology Review | 14 July 2014

In a nondescript site in Midland, Texas, an inexpensive new process is cleaning up some of the most contaminated water around—the extremely salty stuff that comes up with oil at wells.

This water treatment plant in Midland, Texas, will soon treat 500,000 gallons of oilfield waste water daily.

By the end of next month, the technology is expected to be chugging 500,000 gallons per day, furnishing water that’s sufficiently clean to use in hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas production.

The technology may provide a way to deal with the increasing amounts of contaminated water the fossil fuel industry is generating as it pursues more and more difficult-to-reach deposits. Many oil formations can produce as much as 5 bbl of contaminated water for every 1 bbl of oil. And the volume of this produced water is rising as the industry pumps water into nearly depleted wells to enhance oil recovery.

BSEE Director Says Collaboration Needed Offshore

Source: Fuel Fix | 14 July 2014

One of the biggest obstacles in boosting the safety of offshore drilling is making sure a massive web of contractors and oil companies are working collaboratively to prevent accidents, a top federal regulator says.


Offshore, “you have an operator and multiple contractors and subcontractors,” noted Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement Director Brian Salerno in an interview with Platts Energy Week. “The challenge, really, is to get all of them to work together seamlessly and safely.”

Salerno, a former vice admiral in the Coast Guard, noted the distinction between that complex offshore oil and gas hierarchy and a streamlined military operation, with more clearly defined roles and fewer side players.