Monthly Archives: September 2018

Why New Mexico shouldn’t rush toward repurposing oilfield wastewater

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the state of New Mexico recently announced an agreement to create a working group to explore the regulatory landscape regarding potential new options for managing oil and gas wastewater.

In 2017, New Mexico’s oil and gas operators produced nearly 38 billion gallons of wastewater – also known as “produced water.” In drought-prone New Mexico, the prospect of critical water shortages is very real and it may be tempting to repurpose this water for other uses.  However, produced water can contain hundreds of potentially toxic chemicals, making the management of this waste stream extremely challenging.

This new working group should proceed with caution so their examination doesn’t lead to new problems.

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Harvard Management Company discusses challenges, opportunities for reducing methane emissions in oil and gas industry

Last month, we had the opportunity to speak about methane and ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) investing with Michael Cappucci, Senior Vice President of Compliance and Sustainable Investing at Harvard Management Company (HMC). An early leader in ESG investing, HMC was the first U.S. university endowment to sign the UN-supported PRI ESG investing initiative in 2014.

HMC manages the university’s $37 billion endowment and believes ESG risks can have indirect and direct impacts on a company’s performance. Part of HMC’s work with Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) includes co-leading a group of institutional investors examining the global efforts underway to limit methane emissions and the opportunities to increase their effectiveness. As HMC’s representative to that group, Michael explains below why methane is a risk for all investors and how far the industry has come in just a few short years. Read More »

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What to watch for as methane targets become the new normal

Last October, the 10 CEOs of major oil and gas producers, including BP, China National Petroleum and Saudi Aramco, announced an aspiration to reach near zero methane emissions from their companies’ natural gas value chains. They pledged, as part of their participation in the Oil & Gas Climate Initiative (OGCI), to work together on a target that would deliver on this future by the time they reconvened for their next annual event.

Because that anniversary is right around the corner, it’s timely to revisit an analysis EDF released this year – with support from several leading investors and industry experts –that lends key criteria for companies to craft robust methane targets, and for stakeholders to evaluate them.

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3 “Digital Oilfield” trends to watch at Gastech 2018

Four years ago, I stood in the centralized data command center of an American oil and gas company, watching a former colleague remotely adjust infrastructure at wellsites thousands of miles away because an algorithm detected a potential failure. This was the first time I personally witnessed the power of the “digital oilfield.”

Essentially, the “digital oilfield” refers to a transformative effort to bring solutions such as automation, predictive maintenance, and IoT technologies to the world’s oil and gas industry. Oilfield digitization has started to change the way decisions are made, operations are conducted, and facilities are managed across the entire oil and gas value chain. While early adopters are already employing automated and connected innovations to gain a competitive advantage, only a few are applying digitization technologies to address one of the industry’s biggest challenges: methane.

Fortunately, this is starting to change—because despite a contentious political environment in the United States with the current Administration’s attempts to dramatically weaken methane emissions standards—the opportunities surrounding digital methane management are unprecedented and global, and both the bottom line and the environment can benefit. That’s something that everyone along the oil and gas value chain can get behind.

As Gastech gets underway in Barcelona this week, here are three oilfield digitization trends I’m watching. Read More »

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Methane rollbacks create moment of truth for oil and gas executives

How top energy companies engage in the U.S. methane policy debate in the coming weeks may tell us a lot about the future of natural gas.

As these companies have themselves recognized, the role of natural gas in a world that can—and must—decarbonize depends on minimizing harmful emissions of methane from across oil and gas production and the natural gas value chain. But a recent comprehensive study involving dozens of leading academics and companies around the country found that U.S. methane emissions from industry are 60 percent higher than prior estimates—enough to double the climate impact of natural gas.

Such wasteful emissions leak away the potential climate benefits of natural gas, threatening the credibility of executives making the case to institutional investors and society that natural gas can meet what some industry leaders have deemed the “dual challenge” of meeting energy demand while reducing emissions.

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