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Social Responsibility

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.

Texas Legislators Discuss Oilfield Water Use

Source: Fuel Fix

A climate scientist warned legislators Wednesday, February 13, that Texas summers are likely to get longer and drier, setting the stage for a hearing on how oil and gas producers use water in a state that remains in varying stages of drought.

“Freshwater is going to be more scarce,” Gerald North, professor of atmospheric science and oceanography at Texas A&M University, told members of the energy resources and natural resources committees, recommending they prepare for a future with more storms on the magnitude of Hurricanes Katrina and Ike, and more droughts similar to the one in 2011.

Rep. Jim Keffer, R-Eastland, chairman of the energy resources committee, acknowledged that the current oil drilling boom has been good for the Texas economy but said the Legislature can’t ignore public concerns over water use.

“We have to make sure we are using the least amount of freshwater we can,” he told Cody Pomeroy, general counsel for the Texas Oil and Gas Association, who said 21 percent of water used by drillers now is brackish or recycled water.

Hydraulic Fracturing With Bad Water

Source: Forbes

Iron hydroxide precipitate (orange) in a Missouri stream receiving acid drainage from surface coal mining. (Wikipedia)

So, you have a dwindling supply of fresh water for drinking and for wildlife, you have large amounts of contaminated water from old mining operations that we don’t know what to do with and are really expensive to clean-up, and you have the need for large amounts of water for the dramatic increase in fracking operations that don’t need to use fresh or potable water but are presently using both fresh and potable water from these very dwindling supplies.

This looks to be an opportunity too good to pass up.  Let’s use the mine water for fracking and stop using the precious fresh water.  Sounds easy.  And the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) is trying to do just that.

SPE Paper Analyzes Challenges of Reusing Produced Water

Source: SPE

Produced water is an inextricable part of the hydrocarbon recovery processes, yet it is by far the largest volume waste stream associated with hydrocarbon recovery. Water production estimates are in the order of 250 million B/D in 2007, for a water-to-oil ratio of approximately 3:1, and are expected to increase to more than 300 million B/D between 2010 and 2012.

Increasingly stringent environmental regulations require extensive treatment of produced water from oil and gas productions before discharge; hence, the treatment and disposal of such volumes costs the industry annually more than USD 40 billion. Consequently, for oil and gas production wells located in water-scarce regions, limited freshwater resources in conjunction with the high treatment cost for produced water discharge makes beneficial reuse of produced water an attractive opportunity.

Water consumption worldwide is roughly split, with 70% agricultural use, 22% industrial use, and 8% domestic use. A fifth of the population lives in areas of water scarcity, and one in eight lacks access to clean water. Currently, properly treated produced water can be recycled and used for waterflooding [produced water re-injection (PWRI)] and other applications, such as crop irrigation, wildlife and livestock consumption, aquaculture and hydroponic vegetable culture, industrial processes, dust control, vehicle and equipment washing, power generation, and fire control. These beneficial reuses directly decrease the withdrawal of potable water, a highly valuable commodity in many regions of the world. Although produced water can potentially be treated to drinking water quality, little research has been done on the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of direct or indirect potable reuse of produced water from oil and gas production.


Legal Firm Looks at Top Water Concerns for 2013

Source: McGuireWoods via Mondaq

Courts, the EPA, state agencies, environmental groups, and individual citizens will face new and difficult questions in 2013 involving stormwater, nutrients, wetlands and water rights.

In the first of its series addressing this year’s major environmental issues, the McGuireWoods environmental team identifies the top water issues to follow in 2013.

Ohio Study Warns of Pennsylvania Wastewater

Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The volume of drilling wastes from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale is growing and threatening to overwhelm existing waste-handling infrastructure in Ohio and other states, according to a study released Tuesday.

Pennsylvania’s wastewater management issues may soon spill over into nearby states. (Robin Rombach/Post-Gazette)

Ohio’s 179 injection wells for disposing of briny waste might not be sufficient for the Pennsylvania waste, plus wastes from Ohio’s developing Utica Shale, said Brian Lutz, assistant professor of biogeochemistry at Kent State University, who led the analysis while he was a postdoctoral research associate at Duke University.

“The overall volume of water that now has to be transported and treated is immense,” he said. “It threatens to overwhelm the region’s wastewater-disposal infrastructure capacity.”

Chesapeake Agrees To Let EPA Study Hydraulic Fracturing at Drillsites

Source: Rigzone

Natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy has agreed to let the Environmental Protection Agency conduct extensive tests at one of its drilling sites as part of an investigation into the safety of hydraulic fracturing, an administration official said.

The testing, which will involve water sampling before and after drilling takes place, will serve as a cornerstone of a yearslong EPA study to determine whether hydraulic fracturing poses a risk to water supplies.


Tracing the Culprit if Fracking Pollutes Water Supplies

Source: StateImpact

Scientists are developing ways to add non-toxic tracers to drilling fluid so if groundwater is contaminated, investigators would be able to pinpoint if an oil or gas drilling operation was to blame.

“What’s impossible at the moment is if you’ve got multiple companies in an area and it’s thought there is contamination, there is no way to tell which company caused the contamination,” said Andrew Barron at Rice University in Houston.

Barron is developing (along with colleagues at the University of Alberta)  ”nano-rust,” an iron oxide that could be injected into the ground along with drilling fluid.

“We’ve designed these particles such that we can fingerprint them based on their magnetism,” Barron told StateImpact.