Energy Exchange

Scientists identify opportunities to better understand oilfield wastewater

By Cloelle Danforth and Nichole Saunders

Collaborative research is a critical element for identifying unforeseen risks associated with using the oil industry’s wastewater outside the oilfield. That’s the recommendation of a new peer-reviewed paper accepted this week in the Journal of Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management (IEAM).

The paper comes at a crucial moment for the oil and gas industry, which generates some 900 billion gallons of salty, chemical-filled water (also called produced water) each year. Traditionally, companies dispose of this wastewater deep underground where it is less likely to cause contamination. But economics and water scarcity are forcing questions about other ways to treat, reuse and even repurpose this wastewater. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will release a report very soon that could make it more common for companies to discharge their wastewater into rivers and streams.

The IEAM paper outlines the conclusions of a multi-day toxicity workshop where experts from the oil and gas industry, academia, government and the environmental community collectively identified key knowledge gaps associated with this waste stream and determined tools, technologies and methods needed to help close those gaps.

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Posted in Water / Tagged | Comments are closed

Not all biogas is created equal

By Joe Rudek and Stefan Schwietzke

In this climate-conscious economy, where many consumers demand cleaner energy options, gas companies are exploring more opportunities to reduce their carbon footprint.

One option gaining traction is biogas – a form of natural gas that comes from decaying biological sources (like decomposing food and manure), rather than fossil fuels. In fact, gas utilities from Vermont to California have introduced programs to allow their customers to purchase biogas through the existing gas system.

Some utilities suggest that biogas cuts carbon emissions across the energy sector. However, the reality is that biogas must be developed with safeguards that protect the climate and local environmental conditions, and is only one tool among many needed to address the climate crisis.

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Posted in Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Nightmare on Capitol Square: New coal and nuclear bailout bill is a huge blow to Ohio’s clean energy economy

Ohio’s electric industry is thriving and our energy supply is getting cleaner, with average power costs well below the national average. This dreamy scenario is the envy of other states – but Ohio’s legislators are plotting in the Capitol Square statehouse to turn this dream into a nightmare.

This nightmare is a new bill that not only subsidizes uneconomic coal and nuclear plants, but also guts the renewable energy and energy efficiency standards that have led to more than $1 billion in savings and thousands of new jobs for Ohioans. In an Orwellian twist, the legislators are trying to sneak this bailout through by calling it a “clean air resource” bill.

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Posted in Clean Energy, Ohio / Read 2 Responses

New Mexico’s million-ton methane problem

By Jon Goldstein and David Lyon

You can’t see what you don’t look for. That axiom is at the heart of the problem with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) methane emission estimates. It is also why a new analysis based on empirical data and cutting-edge science finds a far larger methane emissions problem in New Mexico than previously thought.

EPA estimates emissions based on data reported by oil and gas operators and a set of assumptions about leak rates called “emission factors.” EDF and our research partners decided to take a closer look at emissions in New Mexico, conducting direct measurements at well facilities and applying the latest science to understand leaks in the supply chain.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed

What the world’s largest provider of oilfield services has to say about innovation and regulation

Here is something you don’t hear every day: oil and gas methane regulations can reinforce innovation and leadership. Numerous new methods to reduce oil and gas methane emissions are being developed; and regulators, environmentalists, oil companies and innovators are working together to craft a new way for innovation to be recognized and rewarded.

I interviewed Drew Pomerantz of Schlumberger, the world’s largest provider of oilfield services, about what new methods and technologies are available to reduce oil and gas methane emissions, what their impact might be, and what is needed to realize that potential.

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Posted in Fourth Wave, Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed

Investors urge companies to support methane regulations. Are they listening?

Over the past few weeks, companies like BP, Equinor, Exxon and Shell have publicly stated their support for direct federal regulation of methane. It is not every day that a company asks for more rules rather than less. What’s one of the driving forces behind these public position reversals? Investors.

Investors have been an important pressure point in moving these companies to their new policy positions, and they continue to wield their influence to encourage more companies to join.

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Posted in Methane, Methane regulatons / Comments are closed