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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 »

Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

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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Also posted in Methane / Comments are closed

State leaders concerned about safety of reusing oil and gas wastewater

Regulators from across the country met in Vermont this week at the Environmental Council of the State’s (ECOS) fall meeting to discuss some of the nation’s most pressing environmental challenges. I joined members of ECOS’ Shale Gas Caucus to discuss an emerging threat imminently impacting oil and gas-producing states: the question of what to do with the massive amount of wastewater produced by the oil and gas industry each year.

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

Cowboy up: Wyoming’s new oil and gas proposal helps state lead on air quality

Wyoming is not a state that likes to take a backseat to anybody, especially when it comes to setting energy policy. That’s why it’s no surprise the state recently proposed new standards to reduce harmful, wasteful emissions from the state’s oil and gas facilities.

The requirements in the state’s new proposal are an extension of a successful emission-reduction program implemented in 2015 to improve air quality in western Wyoming, where unchecked oil and gas development led to unhealthy pollution levels.

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

FERC approves pipeline despite concern over controversial business arrangement

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the proposed Spire STL Pipeline. Blessings for the controversial 66-mile project come even though St. Louis already enjoys excess capacity from other pipelines, and despite the fact that the only customer of the pipeline, Spire Missouri, does not actually have any growth in customer demand. It is estimated that the project will cost ratepayers $30 million annually over the next twenty years.

The proceeding reveals much about how the agency assesses the legally-required “market need” for new pipelines when both buyer and seller in the contract used to demonstrate that market need are two different arms of the same company. These so-called affiliate transactions are a growing trend as retail gas utilities seek new revenue to offset stagnating demand.

The risk with these types of transactions is that we could end up with expensive new pipelines that aren’t needed. What’s more, these deals are specifically engineered to shift financial responsibility for these costly projects away from private shareholders and onto retail ratepayers (i.e., the public). They can also lock utility customers into decades-long gas contracts at precisely the time when competitive alternatives – from renewables to energy storage – are transforming the market. Spire presents a textbook example of these concerns.

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Also posted in Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

As L.A. temperatures rise, so does interest in cleaner air and cleaner energy

This blog was co-authored by Annie Cory, Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Intern for EDF's Oil & Gas Program

Just like many cities that have experienced record high temperatures in 2018, Los Angeles was hit with a heat wave of record proportions in early July, with temperatures topping 113 degrees in several parts of the county. As air conditioners across the region struggled to keep up, the heat pushed our energy grid over the brink, with blackouts leaving at least 80,000 Angelinos sweltering without electricity.

Such elevated temperatures are not typical for Los Angeles. Yet weather events like these are becoming both more frequent, and more intense. Burning more fossil fuels, of course, only compounds the warming problem.

To put a dent in the causes and impacts of man-made climate change, cities, states and nations will need to implement a portfolio of solutions aimed at cutting carbon across the board and boosting the resiliency of our energy grid. By increasing the share of renewable energy used to power our homes and businesses, and incentivizing technology like battery storage while expanding focus on energy conservation, the threat of blackouts can be greatly diminished during hot summer days.

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Also posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Community Solar, Energy Equity, Energy Storage, Methane, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Comments are closed