Energy Exchange

EDF issues new framework to help make oil and gas wells safer

The United States onshore oil and gas industry operates nearly one million production wells across 30 states. To protect our health and environment, these wells must be designed, constructed, operated, maintained and closed in a way that prevents leaks and explosions.

To help regulators keep current on leading practices for protecting our environment from the risks associated with oil and gas production, EDF teamed up with Southwestern Energy and dozens of experts in industry, government, academia and advocacy to develop a Model Regulatory Framework for Hydraulically Fractured Hydrocarbon Production Wells in 2014. The framework has been used by states around the country as they have developed or updated well integrity regulations — notably, when Texas adopted several dozen ideas from the framework, blowouts fell 40% (and injuries from blowouts 50%) the next year.

EDF recently launched a new edition of the framework, which contains around 60 improvements based on the latest research and recommendations from oil and gas industry’s technical societies.

Here are some of the key changes in this new edition.

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Posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, produced water, Water / Comments are closed

New well integrity rules make Colorado a leader in well safety for workers and neighbors

The state of Colorado is poised to adopt some of the nation’s most sophisticated and protective regulations designed to prevent its 60,000 oil and gas wells from leaking or exploding.

Colorado has a history of leading on oil and gas regulatory issues to reduce risks to families, workers and the environment, including the nation’s first regulations to address climate-damaging methane emissions from the industry in 2014. In the wake of the 2017 Firestone tragedy and the passage of a major oil and gas reform bill (SB 181) in 2019, the state has undertaken a whole slate of rule modernizations. Well integrity, for which rules have not been updated since 2008, is up next.

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Posted in Aliso Canyon, Colorado, Methane / Comments are closed

Pennsylvania bill gives conventional drillers pass to cut corners, lets communities pay the price

In recent years, Pennsylvania has become an epicenter of the nation’s hydraulic fracturing boom. But even as production from “unconventional” wells – those using horizontal drilling and fracking – has grown, nearly 90% of the state’s 120,000 active wells are older, “conventional” vertical ones that typically rely on traditional drilling methods.

What does that mean for Pennsylvanians? Quite simply, it means that smart, commonsense policies for conventional wells matter. A lot.

However, the state legislature is considering SB 790, which could unravel well-established oil and gas protections while shifting many costs associated with conventional production to taxpayers. As the bill makes its way through the legislature, here are some key facts to keep in mind:

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Posted in General, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

California fixes a major problem with oilfield wastewater injection

A new rule goes into effect today that will help protect California’s groundwater.

The rule applies to injection wells – the underground facilities that enable enhanced oil recovery and the long-term disposal of the oil industry’s wastewater. California has around 55,000 oilfield injection wells, nearly one-third of the nation’s total, and the state’s oil industry injects over 100 billion gallons of water a year into them. The Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) came under scrutiny in recent years when the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) discovered state regulators accidentally allowed thousands of wells to pump oilfield wastewater directly into drinking water aquifers, along with other program deficiencies.

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Posted in California, Natural Gas, Water / Comments are closed

California sets new standards for natural gas storage sites

Data visualization shows the methane plume from the Aliso Canyon gas leak in red.

Three years ago, a blowout at the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility forced thousands of nearby families to evacuate their homes and leaked over 100,000 tons of methane and other harmful pollutants into the atmosphere. The facility’s operator, Southern California Gas, wasn’t prepared for the scope or scale of the disaster that unfolded over four months.

The disaster demonstrated the risks of under-regulated natural gas storage sites, as well as the importance of not being over-reliant on natural gas. Regulators in California and across the country realized the need for better oversight and management.

As a result, California’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) recently finalized new rules for managing the risky, industrial enterprise of underground gas storage. These rules are a foray into an underdeveloped policy space, and are the product of collaboration with stakeholders including national laboratories, the environmental community, and the federal government.

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Posted in Aliso Canyon, California, General, Methane, Natural Gas / Tagged | Comments are closed

Three key takeaways from Ground Water Protection Council’s latest report on oil and gas regulations

Aerial footage shows the footprint of oil and gas development across the U.S. landscape.

A recent report is helping shine a spotlight on three emerging issues facing the oil and gas industry and the agencies that regulate development practices.

The triennial report, funded by a consortium of government, industry and nonprofit stakeholders including EDF, was developed by the Ground Water Protection Council, an organization of state regulators working to protect the nation’s groundwater resources. The report surveys 300+ water protection strategies from 27 state oil and gas agencies. It evaluates how those strategies have evolved over time and identifies key issues for policymakers to consider going forward.

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Posted in Natural Gas, produced water / Tagged , | Comments are closed