Energy Exchange

A Handy Checklist for Regulators on Well Integrity

20141118_132328After several years of collaboration among regulatory experts from across the country, the Groundwater Protection Council (GWPC), recently published a set of 136 “Regulatory Elements” intended to provide regulators with ideas to consider when improving oversight of the permitting, construction, operation and plugging of oil and gas wells.

This may sound dry, but regulations addressing these elements are what keep oil and gas wells from blowing up during drilling or later leaking methane, oil, saltwater, hydraulic fracturing fluid, and other contaminants into air or groundwater.

With over 15 million Americans living within a mile of a well, strong rules on well integrity covering the wide variety of topics addressed in these elements make a huge difference to human health and the environment. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas / Tagged | Comments are closed

Smart Policies to Stop Disastrous Natural Gas Leaks

rp_AlisoCanyon4-300x209-1-300x209-300x209.jpg

Infrared footage reveals massive methane emissions from a gas storage facility in California's Aliso Canyon

Last fall, a massive leak from a natural gas storage facility in California’s Aliso Canyon released nearly 100,000 tons of methane pollution into the atmosphere — the largest uncombusted release of this potent greenhouse gas in U.S. history, and seen by many as the industry’s worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill.

Facilities like Aliso Canyon inject gas pumped in from elsewhere and withdraw it when needed for electric production or heating. Aliso Canyon is the largest field of its kind west of the Mississippi River. There are around 400 such facilities across the U.S., about 14 in California. Until recently, regulatory oversight of these facilities has been uneven at best.

The exact cause of the Aliso Canyon incident is still being investigated, but all signs point to a problem in the aging, corroded casing of one of over a hundred individual wells at the sprawling site. Neither the utility’s maintenance programs nor the state’s lax enforcement of 1980s-era policies were sufficient to prevent this disaster. But now that’s about to change. Read More »

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

Colorado Blazes the Path on Oil and Gas Data

8016200072_36046a718f_zThis May has truly been a banner month for transparency of the oil and gas industry.  To start, FracFocus, the state-run, national hydraulic fracturing chemical disclosure database, released chemical information of nearly 100,000 wells in raw digital format. On the same day, Colorado’s Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) put two key datasets online that will also increase what we know about oil and gas development.

Providing access to quality data is good for the public. The recently released data will help the public track oil and gas complaints and understand more about the quality of wells across the state. This is significant, as researchers can now analyze these data sets to uncover patterns of well issues that can ultimately lead to environmentally protective policy solutions – the Big Data revolution in a nutshell.  By making its data easily and fully accessible to the public, Colorado is helping to lead the way when it comes to responsibly managing oil and gas development. Read More »

Posted in Colorado, General, Natural Gas / Read 1 Response

FracFocus Enters the Era of Big Data

6914441342_605f947885_zThe identity of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing fluid has been a key policy issue since the beginning of the shale revolution a decade ago.  Now, that chemical information just became publicly available in a whole new way.

Today, FracFocus, the nationwide state-run hydraulic fracturing chemical registry database, made its chemical data publicly available as a raw data download – bringing FracFocus into the modern era of Big Data where large information sets can be analyzed for actionable patterns and trends.

In the past, data about the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing were obtainable only on a well-by-well basis and only in PDF format. With nearly 100,000 wells registered with the FracFocus program, this made collecting and analyzing broad chemical information a nearly impossible task for researchers and the public. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas / Read 3 Responses