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, Natural Gas, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed

Satellites become valuable new tool for governments, industry to cut emissions

For years, people used satellites to observe the Earth’s climate. Now, orbital sensing offers a crucial new way to protect it, by giving us new abilities to identify, measure, and ultimately verify cuts in emissions of methane – a highly potent greenhouse gas.

Two new pieces of research led by EDF scientists demonstrate the growing potential of space-based monitoring tools, and offer a preview of things to come when EDF launches its own dedicated methane satellite in 2021.

Offshore Flaring in Mexico

First is a paper published this week in Geophysical Research Letters, explaining how researchers used space-based readings to calculate the enormous volume of natural gas being burned off (or “flared”) by oil and gas platforms in the Southern Gulf of Mexico. From 2005 and 2017, data from NASA’s Aura satellite show that operators flared as much as 710 billion cubic feet of gas per year.

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Also posted in Methane, Texas / Tagged | Comments are closed

No time to waste: What lies ahead in New Mexico on methane policy?

The Cabinet Room was buzzing with (clean) energy on Tuesday as New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham was joined by her Energy Minerals and Natural Resources (EMNRD) Secretary Sarah Cottrell Propst and Environment Secretary Jim Kenney to sign one of the strongest climate executive orders in the nation.

Crucially, the order also directs New Mexico’s state agencies to move expeditiously and develop comprehensive, statewide methane regulations to cut energy wasted from the oil and gas industry and improve air quality.

Now the question becomes, “what next?”

Governor Lujan Grisham made her wishes for a speedy methane rule development clear in the executive order, directing her EMNRD and Environment Department to enact rules “as soon as practicable.”
And she set a high bar for the strength and inclusiveness of the methane rules when she said that, “Our goal is to eclipse states that are successfully doing this work.”

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, New Mexico / Tagged , , | Comments are closed

Energy efficiency goldmine hiding in plain sight in half a million NYC apartments

By Rory Christian and Ferit Ucar

Replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent or LED lamps and upgrading to energy efficient appliances are approaches anyone can take to use less electricity and lower greenhouse gas emissions. And significant new opportunities to save energy are becoming available to New Yorkers thanks to Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the state’s initiative to transform the way electricity is generated, moved, and used. But, for 20 percent of New Yorkers who don’t receive an electric bill from their utility, these benefits are not an option. Without properly metering these apartments, New York will miss out on opportunities to make significant energy reductions and risk falling behind in achieving its ambitious environmental goals.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, New York / Read 2 Responses

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.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, Texas / Comments are closed

New report highlights potential for energy storage in North Carolina

North Carolina recently took another key step in its push for a clean energy future with the publication of a long-awaited study on the opportunities, challenges and value of energy storage for the state. The report, which was mandated under the 2017 Competitive Energy Solutions Act (House Bill 589), is the culmination of a year-long research effort led by a multidisciplinary team of researchers from North Carolina State University in partnership with the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory.

The report finds that North Carolina is at a critical juncture in its clean energy future, with energy storage poised to play a key role. However, in order to develop market opportunities for storage and ensure its full benefits are realized, policymakers must take key steps to wisely accelerate the adoption of energy storage in North Carolina.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Storage, North Carolina / Tagged | Comments are closed