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 »

Also posted in General, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed

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.

Read More »

Also posted in Fourth Wave, Methane / Comments are closed

Satellite data confirms Permian gas flaring is double what companies report

A new analysis of satellite data reveals natural gas waste and pollution in the Texas Permian Basin is two times higher than what industry reports to the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC). In 2017 alone, Permian oil and gas operators burned enough gas to serve all the heating and cooking needs of the state’s seven largest cities. That’s roughly $322 million dollars of natural gas that went up in smoke.

Using National Oceanic and Atmospheric (NOAA) Earth Observation Group satellite data, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) analyzed flaring rates and volumes in the Permian for 2017. The results are eye-opening. The satellite data indicates Permian operators burned 104 billion cubic feet of natural gas—4.4 percent of all gas produced. However, industry only reported 55 billion cubic feet of gas burned to the RRC in that same year.

It gets worse. In the Delaware Basin portion of the Permian, which accounts for about half of all gas produced in the basin, satellite data shows operators burning almost eight percent of their gas. That means some individual operators are wasting even more.

Read More »

Also posted in Texas / Comments are closed

Conservative Wyoming rises to the occasion as feds roll over on oil and gas pollution

Lost amid the wrapping paper this holiday season was a very important move in Wyoming to step up and better regulate air pollution from the state’s oil and gas wells. It was one more reason to pop some champagne corks as we rang in the New Year.

Without much fanfare on Dec. 27, Wyoming finalized new requirements that will mean significant reductions in oil and gas air pollution – including methane – statewide. These newly finalized rules require oil and gas producers to regularly check new and modified oil and gas wells and associated infrastructure for leaks, an improvement that EDF and partners like the Wyoming Outdoor Council have been advocating for several years.

And beyond the holidays, the timing of this move could not be better. That is because while Wyoming is requiring twice-yearly leak inspections at new and modified well sites statewide, the Trump administration’s EPA is working to significantly weaken these same leak inspection requirements at the federal level.

The message here is clear: sensible requirements to regularly find and fix leaks make sense in conservative Wyoming, and they should all across the U.S.

Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Wyoming / Comments are closed

How oil & gas states did (and did not) protect land and water in 2018

By Adam Peltz & Nichole Saunders

Keeping an eye on what happens with domestic oil and gas regulation is a bit like herding cats. We’ve seen encouraging progress on air quality issues related to oil and gas, but an equally critical front that’s seen major action is protection of our land and water resources.

More than 30 states actively regulate oil and gas development but their practices and rules vary significantly. Add the recent attention around industry’s impact on local communities – from earthquakes and the risk of spills to increased traffic and local air pollution – and it’s easy to miss the big trends that dominated regulatory agendas in 2018.

EDF devotes a significant amount of time tracking this activity, and 2018 was a busy year. Over a dozen states completed rule updates and other types of improvements this year on a variety of topics.

Here are the big things we saw in 2018.

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Also posted in Aliso Canyon, California, Colorado, Methane, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, produced water, produced water, State, Texas, Water, Wyoming / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

EPA-New Mexico wastewater report is a conversation starter, not the final word

This blog was co-authored by Colin Leyden and Nichole Saunders

The Environmental Protection Agency and the outgoing Martinez administration in New Mexico have produced a draft white paper and solicited comments on potential ways to reuse or manage the growing volume of wastewater produced by the state’s oil and gas industry.

While the paper is a helpful outline of current produced water policy, New Mexico decision-makers should view it as a conversation starter and not the final word. When it comes to answering questions about whether the oil and gas industry’s wastewater can be safely reused for other purposes, like food crops, livestock or, as the white paper even suggests, drinking water, there are a number of other serious factors to be considered.

Read More »

Also posted in General, New Mexico, produced water, produced water, Water / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed