Oil well

December 4, 2013

World is watching Mora County battle against fracking

Source: The Santa Fe New Mexican, November 24, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

It is a script destined for a Hollywood movie: A rural, low-income, mostly Hispanic New Mexico county passes a community rights ordinance, bans oil and gas drilling, and is sued by rich, greedy oil and gas barons.

“We’re protecting our water,” say two Mora County commissioners who support the ordinance.

“It’s unconstitutional,” cry the Independent Petroleum Producers of New Mexico and a couple of private property owners who are suing over the ordinance. Their lawsuit was filed Nov. 15 in federal District Court.

People around the U.S. and the world who are deeply concerned about the influence of big corporations and the potential environmental damage from hydraulic fracturing methods — used to tap oil and gas supplies — cheer on Mora County.

But there’s more to this story — nuances and tensions that are hard to uncover unless you were born and raised in this hard-scrabble, beautiful and resilient Northern New Mexico county.

Most Mora County residents oppose oil and gas drilling. But some of them say there were better ways to prevent drilling, strategies that had a better chance of standing up in court. They believe the ban was an ill-advised move that will have high costs for an already cash-strapped county government and will gain it nothing except attention.

Others say the ordinance is an example of an outside Anglo group using a poor, minority county for its own ends.

But there’s no backing down from the fight now.…

December 4, 2013

Strong Rules On Fracking In Wyoming Seen as Model

Source: The New York Times, November 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

In energy-friendly Wyoming, oil and gas companies are getting a clear message: Drill, baby, drill — but carefully.

Last week, state regulators approved one of the nation’s strongest requirements for testing water wells near drilling sites. The measure is intended to address concerns that groundwater can become contaminated from drilling activities.

It is the latest of several groundbreaking regulations related to energy production issued by Wyoming, which in 2010 became the first state to require disclosure of some of the chemicals used in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

”I am not going to accept the question of do you want a clean environment or do you want energy,” said Gov. Matthew H. Mead, a Republican who championed the water-testing regulation. ”The fact is that in Wyoming, we want and need both.”

Wyoming ranks about fourth among states in natural gas production and eighth in oil production, which has grown rapidly in recent years.

The new water rule, which takes effect in March, will require oil and gas companies to test wells or springs within a half-mile of their drilling site, both before and after drilling. The tests will measure a range of factors, including temperature, bacteria, dissolved gases like methane and propane, and roughly 20 chemical compounds and elements including barium, benzene, strontium and nitrates.

The rule comes after another measure that took effect this month requiring drilling companies to monitor for certain air pollutants at new oil and gas production sites, and fix any leaks. The requirement applies only to an area in western Wyoming that struggles to keep ozone in check.…

December 2, 2013

Well Site to be Included in Oil Spill Cleanup

Read here about cleanup of a former oil well pad.

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November 12, 2013

CO regulators consider stricter spill rules

Read here about oil and gas regulators in Colorado who are considering stricter spill rules.

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October 9, 2013

Duke researchers publish new paper on gas-drilling waste

Source: The Herald-Sun (Durham, NC), October 6, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Duke University researchers say they’ve documented elevated levels of a radioactive element where a western Pennsylvania waste plant discharged treated water previously used in natural-gas drilling.

Published Wednesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, the findings came from a team led by Nicholas School of the Environment professors Avner Vengosh and Rob Jackson.

The key finding, of elevated levels of radium in streambed sediments just below the plant’s discharge point, came even though it was clear that the treated water leaving the plant met the industrial discharge limit for radioactivity, the paper said.

The effluent nonetheless has a “significant impact” on the sediments. To wit, “most of the radium appears to be absorbed and retained in them” instead of flowing downstream, the paper said.

And the resulting concentrations are high enough that if the sediments themselves were treated, regulations “would require you to take them a licensed radioactive-waste facility,” Jackson said.

The team also found that the plant’s discharge appeared to contribute to elevated levels of salts in the stream’s water downstream of the facility, despite the diluting effect of the stream’s much larger flow.…

October 8, 2013

Colorado flooding implicates insurance coverage for energy companies

Source: http://www.lexology.com, September 30, 2013
By: John D. Shugrue, Kevin B. Dreher and Emily Garrison, Reed Smith LLP

The damage caused by the recent flooding in Colorado is catastrophic and has evermore changed the lives of many who live in and around the affected communities. As the waters recede, the impact of the destruction is being uncovered. Many roads, houses, and businesses have forever been washed away, and the recovery effort will take years to rebuild what has been lost.

Among the businesses hit the hardest were the oil and gas industry. There are about 20,000 oil and gas wells across Weld County, Colorado, and about 1,900 of them had to be closed off — “shut in” — as the floodwaters poured down from the mountains and spread out across the plains. When the floodwaters reached Colorado’s drilling center, they poured into wells, broke pipes and swept huge oil tanks off their foundations. The state has counted at least a dozen “notable” spills stemming from the catastrophic floods. According to officials, the heavy floodwaters caused more than 37,000 gallons of oil to spill into or near rivers, and the state’s oil and gas industry is racing to assess and fix the damage to wells, pipelines, and storage facilities that occurred during the storm.

While the resulting environmental impact caused by the recent Colorado flooding may pale in comparison to other catastrophic disasters, such as the Deepwater Horizon blowout or the Exxon Valdez oil spill, the physical damage and loss of operations sustained by many oil and gas companies that operate in the affected area will be significant. Fortunately, the affected companies likely have insurance coverage in place to assist with physical repairs to wells, pipelines, and storage facilities, as well as coverage to assist with any environmental cleanup, resultant third-party claims, and loss of business income and production.…

September 25, 2013

Sites sought for region's fracking residue

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, September 23, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Battelle scientists are leading a search for sites where companies can pump fracking waste underground in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

The two-year project, funded by a $1.8 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, is a response to the growing amount of polluted wastewater that bubbles out of fracked shale wells. Millions of barrels of the waste are pumped into disposal wells, many of which are in Ohio.

With more drilling and fracking expected, oil and gas companies will need to find the best locations to safely inject more waste, said Neeraj Gupta, senior research leader for Battelle’s subsurface-resources group.

“That’s one of our objectives. Where is the injection capacity?” Gupta said.

Right now, it’s in Ohio, where more than 14.2 million barrels of fracking fluids and related waste from oil and gas wells were pumped into 190 disposal wells last year. That was a 12 percent increase over 2011.

Much of the waste — 8.16 million barrels last year — came from Pennsylvania, which has seven active disposal wells. West Virginia has 63 disposal wells.

The fracking process pumps millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals underground to shatter shale and free its trapped oil and gas. Some of the fluid bubbles back up, along with ancient saltwater that contains toxic metals and radium.

Environmental advocates say they worry that old, poorly maintained disposal wells will leak pollutants to groundwater.…

August 7, 2013

Gas leaks from shale wells rare

Source: The Columbus Dispatch, August 5, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

Minutes after Debby Kline flicked a lighter near a bathroom sink in her Portage County house in northeastern Ohio, she called the fire department.

A sink-to-ceiling flare erupted when she tried to light a candle on Dec. 21, she told a TV news show. State oil and gas regulators are still investigating what caused natural gas to bubble out of the faucet.

Kline’s Nelson Township house is within a half-mile of two Utica shale wells that state records show were drilled and fracked in October and November.

Videos of burning water in Ohio and Pennsylvania households have helped bring attention to shale drilling and fracking, but such incidents are rare. Most complaints associated with oil and gas drilling are about drinking-water wells that run dry or produce water that’s discolored, smelly or clogged with sediment.

But in some cases, natural gas from poorly cased and cemented wells can seep into drinking-water wells, making faucets spit fizzy water that some homeowners can ignite.

“We encourage people not to do that, because there is an explosive risk,” said Kevin Sunday, a spokesman for the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials said they could not discuss Kline’s case while it is being investigated. Kline also declined to comment.

Oil- and gas-industry advocates say shallow pockets of natural gas can leak into groundwater. They say drilling gets blamed for something that has been going on, unnoticed, for years.…

July 2, 2013

OH Fracking Waste Disposal Increasing

Read here about the increase of fracking waste in Ohio resulting from the shale gas and oil drilling process.…

June 25, 2013

PDC Energy to pay $35,000 for February fracking fluid spill

Source: Greeley Tribune (CO), June 18, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

PDC Energy on Monday formally agreed to pay $35,000 in response to February’s 30-hour, 84,000-gallon fracking flow back fluid spill north of Windsor.

During the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission’s meeting in Grand Junction, PDC offered to go above and beyond an otherwise minor fine by entering into an administrative order by consent. Typically, the commission weighs its enforcement options to the tune of $1,000 per violation per day, but in the case of the PDC incident — which was contained to the well pad and largely based on “bad luck” — that would have totalled only about $9,000.

“We understand that there’s a tremendous amount of pressure on the commission,” said Adell Heneghan, vice president of environmental health and safety with PDC. “We also understand that the community is crying out for more enforcement, and we believe that this is the appropriate thing to do.”

In addition to the fine, PDC will also arrange for three Weld County training classes titled “Effective Strategies and Tactics for Municipal Responders,” which will focus on strategies emergency workers can use when responding to an oil or gas well situation. Those classes, hosted by Texas-based Wild Well Control, will be held July 6, July 19 and July 20.…