Tag Archive for: Fracking

Hydrofracking Wastewater Treatment Market to Triple

Hydrofracking wastewater treatment market to triple

The U.S. market for treating produced water and flowback water generated during the process of hydrologic fracturing, or “fracking,” in oil and gas production will increase substantially from $138 million in 2014 to $357 million in 2020, according to a recent report by Bluefield Research (Boston, MA).

The report finds that, overall, the U.S. oil and gas industry will spend $6.38 billion in 2014 on water management, including water supply, transport, storage, treatment, and disposal. The transport and disposal components will account for 66% of the total costs, while treatment will only constitute 2% of that expenditure this year, but treatment will gain as the industry requires more reuse of its wastewater. The “fracking” industry has been a kind of “wild west” for the U.S. water industry, according to Bluefield analyst Reese Tisdale, because of the explosive build-out of fracking wells, the lack of clear regulation of water management in key markets, and the absence to date of a consistent method for treating the wastewater.

NASA now says massive methane cloud over U.S. Southwest is legitimate

Several years ago, NASA scientists discovered a cloud of methane gas over the Four Corners of the American southwest that measured about the size of Delaware. The unusually high readings were dismissed then; however, a new study today confirms that the methane hot spot is legitimate.

“We didn’t focus on it because we weren’t sure if it was a true signal or an instrument error,” said NASA research scientist Christian Frankenberg, who works in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California.

The Christian Science Monitor website states that a 2,500 square mile methane cloud over the region where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, and Arizona connect traps more heat in a 1-year period than all of Sweden’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.

To provide an overview of gases that endanger the Earth’s atmosphere, methane gas is the most powerful of the greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide is another greenhouse gas, and is more abundant in our atmosphere. However, methane is more effective at trapping heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide.

A new study published 10 October 2014 in the journal Geophysical Research Letters takes a look at the data discovered several years ago and confirms what we now know to be North America’s largest methane hot spot. According to lead author of the study, Eric Kort, a professor of Atmospheric, Oceanic, and Space Sciences at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan, the source of the methane is from extensive coal mining activity in the San Juan Basin. According to Kort, the Basin is “the most active coalbed methane production area in the country.”

There has been a notable increase in fracking in that region. Both Kort and Frankenberg believe that the earlier coal mining is most likely to blame for the methane cloud.  From 2003 to 2009, the study shows there were 0.59 million metric tons of methane released each year — 3.5 times more than previous estimates.

According to Kort, “The results are indicative that emissions from established fossil fuel harvesting techniques are greater than inventoried. There’s been so much attention on high-volume hydraulic fracturing, but we need to consider the industry as a whole.”

Water Scarcity Shines Spotlight on the Fracking Industry

The World Resources Institute (WRI) has released a report that highlights the potential for water scarcity to put a halt on fracking among the world’s top 20 shale countries.

In one of these countries—the United States—fracking has been used for years. However, new technology has enabled companies to drill deeper and horizontally, allowing fracking in more populated areas than ever before. These modern fracking techniques require millions more gallons per well of water, resulting in millions more gallons of contaminated wastewater. This increased amount of water usage results in two major causes for concern: water scarcity, and groundwater contamination.

Adding to this concern, the WRI report states that 38 percent of the world’s shale resources are found in areas that are water barren or “under high to extremely high levels of water stress”, and 40 percent of countries with the largest shale reserves have severely limited freshwater sources. With the spotlight being shined brighter than ever on fracking’s relationship with water, the WRI has compiled a list of actions for these operations to take in order to help preserve the integrity of water supplies. The list is made up of four recommendations.

First, the WRI suggests conducting water risk assessments to understand local water availability and reduce business risk. Next, increase transparency and engage with local regulators, communities, and industry to minimize uncertainty and ensure adequate water governance to guarantee the security of the water and reduce risks. The last action the WRI recommends is minimizing freshwater use and engaging in corporate water stewardship to reduce impacts on water availability.

Current findings and water shortages suggest an urgent need for improved monitoring and transparency for operations within the fracking industry. Using a centralized system for managing crucial fracking information can increase transparency, improve compliance with current regulations, and better protect the quality and quantity of the world’s water supplies.

The Governor of California Signs Fracking Regulation Bill

Governor Jerry Brown signed legislation this past Friday that marks California’s first regulation for hydraulic fracturing.

The bill, which is most likely the toughest regulation yet for fracking, requires oil drillers to disclose the chemicals used and acquire permits before engaging in fracking. Other provisions of the legislation, which will take effect in January, call for oil companies to test groundwater, notify neighboring landowners before drilling, and to conduct a study about fracking’s impact on the environment by January 2015.

Although the bill was originally met with support from environmental groups, some of these groups have revoked their endorsements and now argue the regulation is not enough; whereas oil companies oppose it, claiming the bill will make it much harder to take full advantage of the oil from California’s southern San Joaquin Valley.

Gov. Brown has said the bill “establishes strong environmental protections and transparency requirements.” However, he also plans to explore further changes next year to clarify the new requirements.

Before this legislation, SB4, California did not have regulations for fracking. The new bill will undoubtedly require a great deal more reporting and permitting for the oil and gas industry. For companies engaging in hydraulic fracturing in California, the time is now to prepare for this new bill by organizing their information and automating reporting to ensure that regulations are met while their operational costs are lowered.

Preliminary Fracking Study Boasts Promising Results

A recent federal study on hydraulic fracking has brought a small victory to the natural gas industry. The study, conducted by the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, shows no evidence of chemicals from the natural gas drilling process contaminating drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site.

After one year of monitoring, researchers found that potentially harmful drilling fluid chemicals have stayed approximately one mile beneath any drinking water supplies. This conclusion was reached by tagging drilling fluids with specific markers, and injecting them 8,000 feet into the ground. After closely tracking these fluids, it was ultimately concluded that they did not reach any higher than 3,000 feet below the surface.

This study is a first of its kind; never before has a drilling company permitted government scientists to monitor fracking fluids like this. However, the study is still ongoing and the results remain preliminary at this time. While the findings may be a boost of confidence for the natural gas industry, they do not mean that fracking can’t be a form of pollution.

Despite the promising results, reservations still linger. The fact remains that many aspects of the drilling process can cause pollution when not managed properly. Also, a lack of transparency by drilling companies in revealing certain chemical formulas often leaves the public feeling uneasy.

The preliminary results of this study will not erase the controversy surrounding fracking overnight, but they do pose a few important takeaways. For example, one such key point is that the best way to avoid possible danger and contamination from fracking is to engage in it responsibly, and continuously monitor water quality around drilling sites. This way if leaks do occur, they will be discovered early and contained. Early detection of water contamination is just as crucial as it is with many debilitating diseases. With early detection a cure could be quick and simple, whereas if it goes undetected, the chances of a positive outcome diminish with time. A similar analogy holds true for subsurface water contamination as well.

When it comes to fracking, monitoring for leaks is key and a small price to pay in order to guarantee the protection of our water resources. Designing a comprehensive monitoring program to ensure the proper management of applicable fluids and chemicals is critical for natural gas drilling. With the swift advancements in technology today, companies engaging in fracking are able to take advantage of state-of-the-art software systems, such as Locus’, to assist with the tracking and organization of this pertinent information. The more that this takes place, the more secure we will all be from the potential negative effects of fracking.

Fracking’s Role in Reducing CO2 Emissions

There’s no doubt that hydraulic fracking has become a popular term today, but have you heard of cracking? I am referring to the drop in carbon emissions partly made possible by the cheaper fuel source brought forth by fracking. In fact, American CO2 emissions have fallen nearly 13 percent since 2007, which makes President Obama’s promise to cut these emissions by 17 percent between 2005 and 2020 possibly obtainable without enacting a major new legislation like cap-and-trade.

While certain regulations and tax break incentives have helped make this reduction possible, the main driving force is economics. Not only have Americans been encouraged to drive less and purchase vehicles with better fuel economy due to high prices, but power companies have also been making the switch from coal to natural gas, a cleaner and cheaper fuel. These actions have resulted in the drop in CO2 emissions, and it’s doubtful that they will change too severely in the near future. Or to put it simply, market forces have taken care of CO2—for now.

However, while cutting greenhouse gas emissions is a positive, it may come with a high price to pay if water quality around fracking sites is not properly monitored and managed. Many concerns have already arisen about chemicals and methane potentially leaking from wells and contaminating water supplies and air. If we don’t monitor aquifers around fracking sites and end up contaminating them, all gains on reduced emissions could quickly be lost as water treatment is expensive, requires a large amount of energy, and takes a long time, which again translates into more carbon emissions.

It is important for companies to take responsibility for their fracking sites, so that the decrease in CO2 emissions and the protection of our water resources may occur simultaneously. In order to ensure that water quality is preserved, a sufficient amount of monitoring needs to happen at a reasonable frequency. Aquifer and surface water samples must be collected and analyzed for probable contaminants. Locus offers the industry leading water quality management software, EIM, to assist companies that face this challenge. EIM is a Cloud-based data management system that supports all management and workflow processes necessary to better determine water quality, so that cracking may be accomplished safely.

New Rules for Hydrofracking Proposed: This Time in California

Going along with the same theme from my last post, new rules have been proposed for hydrofracking, but this time in California. Governor Jerry Brown’s administration released these draft regulations that would require energy companies, for the first time ever, to disclose what chemicals they are releasing into the ground during the fracking process. These companies would also have to reveal the locations of their wells where this process is occurring.

These proposed regulations have arose because energy companies are looking into tapping the state’s Monterey shale, which runs from Northern California to Los Angeles and contains approximately 15 billion barrels of oil- making it the largest shale formation in the continental U.S.

A recent conclusion was drawn from a Bloomberg News study that in their disclosure reports, companies nationwide withheld one out of every five chemicals they used in fracking. Perhaps this is why nine other states have deemed these new rules appropriate, and why California is proposing them as well.

Under these new rules, companies would be required to disclose chemicals 60 days after completing fracking. They would also have to test their wells before fracking to ensure that leaks don’t occur, and provide the results of those tests to regulators before starting to drill.

With regulations around fracking steadily increasing, transparency has never been more essential for energy companies. By using SaaS based Locus EIM software to better organize, validate, and report all of the data and information involved with fracking, companies would be able to prove that when fracking is engaged in, it is engaged in safely. Locus’ EIM has already been proven to assist companies in showing that obtaining these valuable fossil fuels while remaining environmentally responsible is an attainable feat.

Latest version of proposed regulation changes on hydrofracking expected this week

It’s no secret that hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking, has been a popular topic for debate in recent years. Another occurrence revolving around this that has garnered support from some, and opposition from others, is Texas’ oil and gas regulatory agency, the Railroad Commission, updating its rules to address all aspects of the drilling process.

The latest version of the proposed rule changes is expected this week, and will be the largest revamping of Texas well construction regulations since the 1970s. These rules are important to ensure that toxic, fracking-related fluids do not leak into aquifers due to poor construction of oil and gas wells. These regulations will require examinations of things such as the quality of the protective cement placed between layers of pipe in a well, and a pressure test for the pipes themselves.

Keeping with the controversial theme around hydrofracking, some say the rule changes are too restrictive, and others say they aren’t enough. But most agree that hydrofracking does have the potential to contaminate groundwater if not performed correctly.

The contamination of groundwater can occur from faulty drilling or well completion. For the natural gas industry to ensure this doesn’t happen and to stay in compliance with these new regulations, it must keep up with an ongoing monitoring of site conditions and air emissions, management of production water, and the remediation of adverse environmental impacts: all of which involve the collection and analysis of large quantities of complex data.

Owners of hydrofracking sites and drilling companies need to take advantage of existing software tools to better organize their hydrofracking waste and water quality data. By using SaaS based software like Locus’ EIM to organize, manage, validate, visualize, store, and report this information, they can effectively demonstrate that this drilling can be done safely and transparently.

EPA Makes Public Fracking Rules, Delays Compliance Until 2015–New Rules Deal With Emissions, Not Drinking Water

Companies using hydraulic fracturing technique will have until 2015 to comply with new rules designed to reduce air pollution. The Environmental Protection Agency released today long-awaited rules on hydraulic fracturing, in one of its first efforts to regulate the widely used technique of extracting oil and natural gas. There was no mention about groundwater protection.

The rules, first proposed in July 2011, would require drillers to capture the emissions resulting from drilling the wells. The oil and gas industry representatives last week told the EPA that controls on wells that have low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from drilling-related emissions won’t be cost-effective. American Petroleum Institute (API) opposed the rule and suggested that it should only apply only to wells whose gas stream is at least 10-percent volatile organic compounds.

“By ensuring the capture of gases that were previously released to pollute our air and threaten our climate, these updated standards will not only protect our health, but also lead to more product for fuel suppliers to bring to market,” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said in a statement.

Fracking Under Fire

The Securities and Exchange Commission is asking oil and gas companies in the US to provide it with detailed information—including chemicals used and efforts to minimize environmental impact—about their use of hydrofracking.

The federal government’s investor-and-markets watchdog is stepping into the heated environmental debate surrounding hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” according to government and industry officials, even as state and federal environmental officials have begun to bring greater pressure on the industry. The process, which involves pumping water, chemicals and sand underground to free difficult-to-reach natural gas in shale basins, has come the center stage of political and environmental discussions.

At the same time the New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is recommending a one-year moratorium on the hydraulic fracturing, after conditionally vetoing legislation that would have permanently banned the practice.

“Fracking” as it is often known, has provoked a fierce battle between environmentalists, who see it as a threat to public health, particularly drinking water, and natural-gas companies, which argue it is safe, and an economic windfall to …