Energy Exchange

Climate, capital and COVID: What’s an energy executive to do?

Mark Brownstein co-authored this post.

We’re hearing more oil and gas companies pledging to reinvent themselves for a new, low carbon energy era. This conversation is unfolding as those same companies grapple with massive impacts of the global pandemic, as well as competitive challenges from cleaner, often cheaper alternatives that had been gaining steam well before the current crisis.

So how can investors and other stakeholders tell which companies are genuinely rising to the occasion? Each producer is going to have to find its own way to navigate the profound transformation of their industry and still make money doing it. But we think there are four key elements (below) that every company must engage to compete in this decade and beyond.

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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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Also posted in Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Tagged , , , | Comments are closed

New Permian data show how worst offenders prevent progress on flaring

Texas’ Permian Basin isn’t just the site of the world’s biggest oil boom. It’s also the source of one of the country’s most unnecessary wastes of energy and associated air pollution. The burning off (flaring) and intentional release (venting) of natural gas has proven to be a black eye Permian producers can’t shake. A previous EDF analysis of 2014-2015 data found that operators in the Permian Basin flared and wasted more than 45 Bcf of natural gas in 2015 alone, enough to serve all 400,000 households in Texas Permian counties for two and a half years.

Production since then has boomed, and the Permian’s flaring problem has too. The burning off of associated gas is predicted to only get worse through 2019, and analysts predict the entire Permian Basin could flare as much as 1 Bcf a day in the coming year. That’s nearly four times the amount of gas produced by the Gulf of Mexico’s most productive gas facility.

EDF has recently analyzed the 2018 flaring data released by the Railroad Commission of Texas, the state’s oil and gas regulator, and beyond illustrating the scale of the problem – operators burned enough gas to serve all the heating and cooking needs of the state’s seven largest cities – the numbers tell us two main things:

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Critic misstates EDF views on New York/New Jersey pipeline, overlooks larger climate win

Industrial pipelineA blogger has made the false allegation that Environmental Defense Fund is advocating for the construction of a proposed natural gas pipeline under New York harbor.

This is simply wrong. EDF is not advocating for the pipeline in question, known as the Williams NESE pipeline. We made that point clear two weeks ago in a blog of our own. The blogger, Rob Galbraith, simply ignores this.

A first-ever look at climate impacts

Mr. Galbraith is responding to a study prepared by consultants M.J. Bradley & Associates, who were hired by the utility National Grid to assess the climate impacts of the pipeline over time. Read More »

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Report reveals heavy burden of energy waste, methane emissions on Navajo communities

By Matt Miccioli, EDF Stanford Schneider Fellow

A recent study of oil and gas methane emissions on the Navajo Nation reveals companies operating on tribal lands pollute 65 percent more than the national average, wasting millions in tribal resources every year and underscoring the opportunity for tribal leaders to reduce emissions.

The analysis, conducted by Environmental Defense Fund and released in conjunction with Grand Canyon Trust, Dinè CARE and Native American Voters Alliance, quantifies the volume of natural gas burned off, vented or leaked from oil and gas production on Navajo lands. It found that companies are wasting about 5.2 percent of their natural gas, generating about 13,000 tons of methane pollution.

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

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 Natural Gas, produced water, Texas / Comments are closed