Energy Exchange

The oil industry’s wastewater is one of the biggest challenges facing Permian producers

This post originally appeared in the Midland Reporter Telegram. 

Nowhere is the current energy boom more apparent than in Midland, Texas. But with this dramatic growth in oil and gas also comes a growing amount of wastewater. Texas oil and gas companies alone produce over 300 billion gallons of wastewater a year, twice as much as any other state, and that volume is expected to increase. This is no ordinary water. In addition to the chemicals used in the hydraulic fracturing process, it can contain radioactive materials and a number of naturally occurring pollutants – including high concentrations of salt that can kill plants and ruin soil for decades if not handled properly.

Most of the time, companies dispose of wastewater by reinjecting it deep underground. This is a cost-effective and largely environmentally sound solution. However, there is growing concern that this option may be less available or more costly in coming years due to a range of challenges from earthquakes to capacity. This, paired with growing demands for water, particularly in drought-stricken regions, is driving companies and policymakers to look at new options for disposing or reusing industry’s wastewater.

These newer options – while promising – are not without their own sets of risks. Read More »

Posted in General, Natural Gas, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed

Satellites become valuable new tool for governments, industry to cut emissions

For years, people used satellites to observe the Earth’s climate. Now, orbital sensing offers a crucial new way to protect it, by giving us new abilities to identify, measure, and ultimately verify cuts in emissions of methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas.

Two new pieces of research led by EDF scientists demonstrate the growing potential of space-based monitoring tools, and offer a preview of things to come when EDF launches its own dedicated methane satellite in 2021.

Offshore Flaring in Mexico

First is a paper published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, explaining how researchers used space-based readings to calculate the enormous volume of natural gas being burned off (or “flared”) by oil and gas platforms in the Southern Gulf of Mexico. From 2005 and 2017, data from NASA’s Aura satellite show that operators flared as much as 710 billion cubic feet of gas per year.

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Posted in Methane, Texas / Tagged | Comments are closed

No time to waste: What lies ahead in New Mexico on methane policy?

The Cabinet Room was buzzing with (clean) energy on Tuesday as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was joined by her Energy Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNRD) Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst and Environment Secretary Jim Kenney to sign one of the strongest climate executive orders in the nation.

Crucially, the order also directs New Mexico’s state agencies to move expeditiously and develop comprehensive, statewide methane regulations to cut energy wasted from the oil and gas industry and improve air quality.

Now the question becomes, “what next?”

Governor Lujan Grisham made her wishes for a speedy methane rule development clear in the executive order, directing her EMNRD and Environment Department to enact rules “as soon as practicable.”
And she set a high bar for the strength and inclusiveness of the methane rules when she said that, “Our goal is to eclipse states that are successfully doing this work.”

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Posted in Air Quality, Methane, New Mexico / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Energy efficiency goldmine hiding in plain sight in half a million NYC apartments

By Rory Christian and Ferit Ucar

Replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED lamps and upgrading to energy efficient appliances are approaches anyone can take to use less electricity and lower greenhouse gas emissions. And significant new opportunities to save energy are becoming available to New Yorkers thanks to Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the state’s initiative to transform the way electricity is generated, moved, and used. But, for 20 percent of New Yorkers who don’t receive an electric bill from their utility, these benefits are not an option. Without properly metering these apartments, New York will miss out on opportunities to make significant energy reductions and risk falling behind in achieving its ambitious environmental goals.

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Posted in Clean Energy, New York / Read 2 Responses

The oilfield digitalization opportunity executives can’t afford to miss

At the Baker Hughes GE Annual Meeting this week in Florence, Italy, a CEO began his presentation with this bold adage: “Digital strategy equals business strategy.” Executives on nearly every panel pointed to the digital opportunity.

As the oil and gas industry invests in the digital transformation to improve competitiveness, companies should seize the opportunity to integrate methane emissions management into their broader digital agendas, as a key way to maximize value and stay competitive in the low carbon energy transition.

Leveraging the transformation to tackle methane

The oil and gas industry is embarking on a holistic digital transformation, one that is disrupting virtually every facet of the business. Digitalization of the oilfield , which includes innovations such as automated asset management, predictive maintenance, and industrial internet of things (IIoT), has the potential to unlock tremendous value – up to $1.6 trillion.

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Posted in Fourth Wave, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

ExxonMobil and Shell lead as counterparts lag on EPA’s first methane rollback proposal

By Ben Ratner and Rosalie Winn

Methane emissions from the American oil and gas industry waste valuable resources, accelerate climate change and severely cloud the credibility of natural gas in the low carbon transition. Unfortunately, Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler has proposed to weaken standards limiting pollution from new and modified oil and gas facilities.

Companies across the value chain with a stake in the future of gas have an incentive to urge continued—and enhanced—nationwide methane regulation that helps industry as a whole improve. As EPA reportedly considers issuing an even more extreme, second proposal to eliminate methane regulation, some industry responses include promising signs of leadership that underscore just how out of step this administration’s attacks have been. Other responses (and non-responses) from industry have been more discouraging in supporting regulatory rollbacks that will increase harmful emissions and further call into question the role of natural gas as investors, customers and others demand cleaner energy.

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