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Social Responsibility

Hold the Water: Some Firms Fracture Without It

Source: Fuel Fix | 27 August 2013

The use of one precious fluid—water—to recover another—oil—chafes in dry country. Rivers and groundwater are receding in Texas for lack of rain and overpumping just when the demand for water in new oil and gas fields is growing.

Now, one exploration and production company in San Antonio is fracturing its wells mostly without water, using gas liquids instead, in a practice that is beginning to spread.

Fracturing, or fracking, refers to using fluid under pressure to create fissures held open by sand. Oil or gas flow back through these channels and up through a well.

BlackBrush Oil & Gas is using a butane-rich mix for fracturing after being confounded by many of the same obstacles other energy companies face in buying, moving, and disposing of large amounts of water.

“Ranchers don’t want to give up their water,” said Jasen Walshak, production manager at BlackBrush.

Why No One Trusts Oil Companies on Fracking

Source: Forbes | 6 August 2013

When I speak to energy industry groups, I am most frequently asked variations on these two questions:

1) Why does the oil industry have such a bad reputation with the public and

2) What can be done about it?

One answer is that the industry needs to stop acting like it has something to hide. On the debate over hydraulic fracturing, in particular, the industry ceded its chance to lead the public discourse because it retreated to its usual posture of denial and opacity rather than transparency. In recent years, some companies have tried to change that, but the seeds of doubt have already been sown in the public’s mind.

And then, companies do things like this. Mother Jones reports that landowners in Pennsylvania recently settled a dispute with Range Resources for USD 750,000 that related to alleged health and environmental damages from hydraulic fracturing on their land. As part of the deal, Range’s attorneys required the company agree to a gag order that prevents the family from commenting “in any fashion whatsoever” on fracturing activities.

Report Urges Comprehensive Study of Deepwater Horizon Effects

Source: Endangered Species & Wetlands Report | 16 July 2013

While numerous studies are under way to determine the effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Gulf of Mexico, the extent and severity of these effects and the value of the resulting losses cannot fully be measured without considering the goods and services provided by the Gulf, says a new report from the National Research Council. The congressionally mandated report offers an approach that could establish a more comprehensive understanding of the effects and help inform options for restoration activities.


BP Canada and BP Foundation Donate USD 450,000 to Flood Relief

Source: OilVoice | 1 July 2013

BP Canada is donating USD 250,000 and the BP Foundation is providing an additional USD 200,000 to the Canadian Red Cross to assist in Southern Alberta flood relief efforts. The BP Foundation is a separate legal entity from BP and has donated more than USD 200 million since 2006 in North America.

“The amazing efforts of first responders, the City of Calgary, and people stepping up to help friends, family, and strangers only reinforces how fortunate we are to live in such a strong and proud community,” said Christina Verchere, president of BP Canada. “This donation underscores our commitment to helping in the flood relief efforts underway in our city and throughout Southern Alberta.”

Marathon Outlines Human Rights Commitment

Source: Marathon Oil | 1 July 2013

“Marathon Oil strives to conduct our operations safely and responsibly, and to respect the human, cultural and legal rights of individuals and communities where we operate. We respect human rights within our workforce, across our value chain and throughout our business relationships. This commitment stems from the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Labor Organization’s Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work.

“Our commitment to the UDHR is underscored through our participation in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights since 2005. This international initiative guides extractive companies in maintaining the safety and security of their operations globally within a framework that ensures respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. Marathon Oil implements the voluntary principles in locations where we have operating responsibility and identified risks. We have developed specific implementation guidelines for conducting risk assessments, interacting with public security and managing contract security. In non-operated locations, Marathon Oil works with business partners to promote awareness of the voluntary principles.”

SPE Holds First HSE Conference in Latin America

Source: 18 June 2013

SPE is holding the first Latin American conference on HSE 26–27 June in Lima, Peru. The SPE Latin American and Caribbean Health, Safety, Social Responsibility, and Environmental Conference will bring together experts from two geographic locations to share best practices, technological advances, and new ideas for HSE.

Experts from Latin America and the Caribbean will conduct more than 50 technical and poster presentations that showcase the latest technological advances and innovative applications in HSE. The opening plenary session, “How to Address and Obtain a License To Operate in Sensitive Areas,” features an in‐depth discussion on social and safety risks, control and transportation of hazardous materials, wastewater treatment, and more.

The second day’s plenary session, “Measures and Improvements After Industry Accidents,” addresses the lessons learned from previous accidents and the latest measures and improvements in managing the prevention and response of oil spills.

“This conference is important to the Latin American and Caribbean regions,” said Carlos Arturo Rosas Mota, conference program committee chairman and HSE manager for Schlumberger Peru. “It is a great opportunity to share best practices and case histories and to learn from each other’s experience. Doing so will help us in our efforts to improve HSE performance for the betterment of the entire industry and all its stakeholders.”

Technical sessions, which will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish, fall into five categories.

  • Environment: Topics include “Designing an Optimal Offshore Pipeline Route To Minimize Impacts on Coastal and Marine Biodiversity,” “The New Structure for International Oil Spill and Preparedness & Response,” and “The Challenges for the Treatment of Drilling Fluid Wastes Generated by E&P Industry in Brazil.”
  • HSE Management: Topics include “The Human Chain—A Different Approach to Behavior Safety Program Through the Use of Social Marketing Concepts,” “Assessing Risks and Regulating Safety Standards in the Oil and Gas Industry: The Peruvian Experience,” and “Building Strong Stakeholder Relations and Minimizing Operational Risks in the Oil and Gas Industry Through Market‐Based Certification.”
  • Social Responsibility: Topics include “The Social Side of Unconventional Oil and Gas in Latin America,” “Innovative Ways to Inspire New Employees to Embrace an HSE Culture,” and “Social Responsibility: A Comparative Study of Oil Majors—Who is the Best?”
  • Safety: Topics include “Integrity Management System Based on Risk Analysis: A Tool to Prevent Failures on Pipelines Which Cross Amazonian Jungles and the Andes,” and “A Study of Rollover Occupant Injury Mitigation Using Dynamic Testing To Evaluate Alternative Protection Systems.”
  • Health: Topics include “Improving the Health of the Workforce May Improve Work Performance,” “Cardiovascular Risk Impact in the Oil Industry,” and “Obesity in the Oil and Gas Industry Population.”

The conference includes an exhibition that will showcase some of the latest developments and trends in HSE.

Report Says Hydraulic Fracturing Is Depleting Water Resources

Source: Shale Energy Insider | 3 May 2013

The Western Organization of Research Councils has published a report titled “Gone for Good: Fracking and Water Loss in the West” on the issue of depleting water resources caused by hydraulic fracturing. The report focuses on the states of Colorado, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.

According to the report, 87 billion-174 billion gallons of water were used for hydraulic fracturing in the country last year and this “level of water use for oil and gas production simply cannot be sustained.”

The report also said that the data and processes used to track water used for hydraulic fracturing are not sufficient.

Defending the use of fracking to extract shale oil and gas, North Dakota Petroleum Council spokeswoman Tessa Sandstrom said that shale well consumption accounted for 0.3% of freshwater used in the US in 2011, compared to 0.5% used by golf courses.



West Virginia Judge Recognizes Trespass By Hydraulic Fracturing

Source: McGuireWoods via Mondaq | 30 April 2013

The notion that an oil and gas producer can commit a trespass by engaging in hydraulic fracturing gained traction on 9 April, when US District Judge John Preston Bailey of the Northern District of West Virginia denied a motion for summary judgment filed by oil and gas producer defendants Chesapeake Appalachia, Statoil USA Onshore Properties, and Jamestown Resources in Stone v. Chesapeake Appalachia. In this case, Chesapeake Appalachia drilled a horizontal Marcellus Shale well with a vertical well bore within 200 feet of the plaintiffs’ property and a horizontal well bore within “tens of feet” of the plaintiffs’ property. Although Chesapeake Appalachia maintains a lease for the oil and gas underlying the plaintiffs’ property, plaintiffs’ lease does not authorize pooling or unitization of the Marcellus formation.


Why It Is Time to Get Serious About Public Communication

Source: Oil and Gas Facilities

The oil and gas industry is no stranger to controversy. As with other hot button issues, how one views the industry is a good indicator of where one falls on the political spectrum.

From the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989 to the Macondo blowout in 2010, the industry has had to face intense public scrutiny and develop effective communication and public relations strategies.

Making meaningful public engagement happen is tricky. A lot depends on context, a community’s previous experiences with extractive industries and its political allegiances, and the economics and leadership (or lack thereof) in a particular area. Yet public engagement is becoming more necessary.

Read the full column here (PDF).


Oil and Gas Companies Team With Environmental Groups To Develop Performance Standards

Source: Reed Smith

The Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), an environmental organization in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has announced a program of performance standards that has been mutually agreed to by a number of environmental groups and oil and gas companies. The program is voluntary and does not create any new requirements or restrictions for oil and gas companies. However, it is possible that state regulators will look to the performance standards when drafting new regulations and permitting requirements or that the performance standards will become unofficial best practices in the industry.

Currently, the program is directed toward states in the Marcellus and Utica shales, including Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, and New York. The participants include Shell, Chevron Appalachia, EQT Corporation, and Consol Energy, as well as the Environmental Defense Fund, the Clean Air Task Force, and the Pennsylvania Environmental Council. The program will be overseen by a 12-member board. Four seats on the board are reserved for the oil and gas industry, four are reserved for environmental groups, and the last four are reserved for various independent individuals, such as former Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill.

Companies Team Up To Examine Responsible Arctic Development

Source: DNV

Arc-00009 (1)In a joint report prepared for the Offshore Northern Seas Conference in 2012, Det Norske Veritas and the Fridtjof Nansen Institute study crucial risk-management issues related to Arctic operations. Their report concluded that, in order to safely develop Arctic resources, there is a need for improved technology, oil spill preparedness, and close cooperation between the authorities, industry, and society.

The report tackles crucial questions, such as

• What are the distinctive features of the Arctic and what kind of risks emanate from them?

• What international framework exists for the regulation of economic activity?

• What type of management system is most relevant?

• How can companies manage risk in the region?



Chevron Nigeria Provides Best Practices for Community Engagement

Source: International Network for Economics and Conflict

In the wake of a violent inter-ethnic crisis in 2003, Chevron Nigeria Limited (CNL)—the third largest oil producer in Nigeria—dramatically reshaped its community engagement strategy. The new process, known as the GMOU model, was named for the formal agreements called General Memoranda of Understanding signed between the company and clusters of communities affected by the company’s onshore operations and government.

In one of the most challenging contexts in the world—where relationships between communities and companies have long been characterized by substantial mistrust and antagonism—the GMOU model is now succeeding where other approaches have fallen short. While still far from perfect, at its core, the GMOU model has helped transform relationships between the company and surrounding stakeholder communities, leading to better outcomes for residents and the company.