Petroleum industry

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.…

November 14, 2013

Drillers recycle water

Read here about oil and gas drillers turning toward water recycling.

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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 26, 2013

Floods Exacerbate Damage of Fracking in Colorado

Source: Targeted News Service, September 24, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

As floodwaters continue to rage across the Front Range, our first thoughts are with the victims and their families. And to add insult to injury, Coloradans now have reason to be concerned about their water quality. Oil and gas industry infrastructure in the region has been severely compromised. Toxic wastewater tanks have been spotted floating in the floodwaters, pipelines are broken and sagging, and the state is now tracking several oil and gas spills.

“We were concerned about fracking before the flooding,” said Lindsey Wilson, field associate with Environment Colorado. “But now, oil and gas spilling into the floodwaters, contaminating drinking water, is an added exclamation point to the long list of dangers that fracking has brought to Colorado.”

The largest spill occurred on Wednesday when about 5,225 gallons of crude oil flowed into the South Platte River near Milliken. Nearly 2 million residents of Denver rely on the South Platte for their drinking water and just over 70 percent of Coloradans rely on the South Platte as their main water source.

“Toxic chemicals, such as cancer-causing benzene, have mixed with floodwaters posing a severe public health hazard,” said Wilson. “While we do not know the full extent of the contamination, we know that thousands of Coloradans’ drinking water could be affected.”

The oil and gas industry is currently exempt from some key provisions of our nation’s bedrock environmental laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and our nation’s hazardous waste law. The thousands of gallons of drilling waste mixing with floodwaters reinforces the need to close these toxic loopholes that leave communities vulnerable to water contamination.

Environment Colorado will be releasing a report Oct. 3, entitled “Fracking by the Numbers,” which will quantify key measures of fracking threats to our environment and health.

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May 9, 2013

Energy group says fracking water report is sensational

Source: Wyoming Public Media, May 8, 2013
By: Irina Zhorov

An energy group says a recently released report overstated issues of water use by the oil and gas industry. The Western Organization of Resource Councils released the report last month and said regulators need to consider the quantity of water the energy industry uses, in addition to the quality.

But Research director for Energy in Depth, Simon Lomax, says the amount of water used for oil and gas development is .06-percent of total water use for Wyoming and the other three states studied, there are sufficient regulations in place, and that natural gas actually puts water into the hydrological cycle.

“For some reason they decided to ignore the amount of water that’s actually added to the hydrological cycle when you burn natural gas. It works out that for every billion cubic feet of natural gas that is burned you get about 11 million gallons of water added to the natural cycle in the form of water vapor,” says Lomax.

Powder River Basin Resource Council member Bob LeResche says, “water vapor going into the atmosphere does not replace it in a usable form for thousands of years, and even then, not locally.”

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February 7, 2013

Nontoxic fracking fluids being developed

Read here about the development of nontoxic fracking fluids being developed to address environmental concerns.

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February 6, 2013

Farmers in Ohio divided on 'fracking'

Source: Columbus Dispatch, February 2, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

The growing amount of hydraulic fracturing, commonly called “fracking,” being performed in Ohio as part of a booming oil and gas industry is causing a split in opinion among the state’s farmers.Some see the movement as an economic opportunity, while others see the practice as a threat to their livelihoods.

High-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing is being heralded as an economic engine in Ohio because it can exploit deeply buried reserves of natural gas and other petroleum products.

Fracking could generate 65,680 jobs and $4.9 billion of investment in Ohio by 2014, according to a 2012 report by researchers at three Ohio universities and sponsored by the Ohio Shale Coalition, a pro-fracking group aimed at maximizing the economic impact of shale-gas production in the state.

Some farmers foresee financial windfalls from leases with oil and gas companies, which according to the economic impact report averaged $2,500 an acre, as well as royalties — continuing income of 15 percent of the value of gas extracted on their properties.

But other farmers see fracking as a threat to their way of life because it injects millions of gallons of water, toxic chemicals and sand deep underground to break apart shale formations and release the gas. These chemicals could put their land off limits for organic farming, which has strict certification standards.

Although the state’s two general farming associations, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the Ohio Farmers Union, are concerned that fracking could contaminate farming soil and water, neither has a current position on the growing natural gas drilling practice in the state.…

January 25, 2013

Lawsuit Filed to Stop Unregulated Fracking in California

Source: http://www.equities.com, January 24, 2013

The Center for Biological Diversity issued the following news release:

The Center for Biological Diversity went to court today to compel California regulators to enforce an existing state law that should protect people and the environment from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a rapidly spreading new method of oil and gas extraction. The lawsuit filed this morning in Alameda County Superior Court says the California Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources has allowed fracking to expand without legally required oversight.

California law applies safeguards and disclosure requirements to any underground injection carried out by the oil and gas industry, the lawsuit points out, and fracking clearly involves injection. Yet the state does not yet regulate or even monitor this controversial practice.

“A looming fracking boom threatens to transform California, creating serious pollution risks to our air, water and climate,” said the Center’s Vera Pardee. “Existing rules clearly cover fracking, but state officials don’t regulate or even track this dangerous way of extracting oil and gas. The state needs to stop ignoring the law and start protecting our environment.”

Fracking involves blasting massive amounts of water and industrial chemicals, mixed with sand, deep into the earth at pressures high enough to crack apart geologic formations, causing fractures that let oil and gas move into the wells and to the surface.

More than 600 wells in at least nine California counties were fracked in 2011 alone, and recent advances in fracking techniques are driving a growing interest in the Monterey Shale, a geological formation holding an estimated 15 billion barrels of oil.…

May 18, 2012

Annual Oil and Gas Industry Report Finds Environmental Accountability is a Top Priority

Source: Business Wire, May 15, 2012
Posted on: http://www.marketwatch.com

U.S. Shale Boom Highlights the Intersection between Public Concern and Industry Efforts

The U.S. oil and gas industry is booming under the vast potential of its shale reserves, but it also faces the increased scrutiny and responsibility that comes with drilling in the public’s backyard. An annual report conducted by BDO USA, LLP, a leading accounting and consulting organization, found a striking increase in environmentally-focused risks cited by the most influential U.S. industry players. An analysis of the risk factors listed by these companies in their most recent 10-K filings reveals that regulatory and legislative changes remain the top concern, cited by 100 percent of companies. Yet this year, those regulatory risks are tied directly to public anxiety over the environmental ramifications of shale gas extraction.

Foremost among these concerns is the increasingly contentious issue of hydraulic fracturing. Oil and gas companies are facing the challenge head-on as they develop new technologies to reduce water usage and earthquake risks. This year, 74 percent of oil and gas companies cited hydraulic fracturing regulation as a risk factor, up from 52 percent in 2011. Moreover, risks related to the impact of climate change and greenhouse gas legislation grew by 17 percent (cited by 81 percent of companies in their financial statements, versus 69 percent in 2011). As the industry touts the promise of job opportunities and energy independence, it is also bracing for the complications that accompany a burgeoning industry with decades of development ahead. Liabilities related to pollution jumped 33 percent (59 percent in 2011 to 79 percent in 2012), and litigation risks were cited by 70 percent of respondents, compared to just 48 percent in 2011.…

April 2, 2012

Middle ground sought on suits

Source: The Advocate, March 19, 2012
By: Michelle Millhollon

The Jindal administration is trying to broker a compromise between landowners and the oil and gas industry on legislation involving what are known as “legacy lawsuits.””

At issue is how to resolve often decades-old pollution caused by oil and gas drilling.

The oil and gas industry wants to be able to admit liability for the cleanup, and allow a court to tackle related financial claims such as loss of income from not being able to use polluted land.

Landowners contend that the oil and gas industry is trying to shirk its responsibility.

Foreseeing a nasty battle over the issue at the State Capitol, legislative leaders are hoping that the Jindal administration can help create a compromise.

“It’s important that all the different stakeholders on this issue work together and try to seek consensus,” said Kyle Plotkin, the governor’s communications director. “Where there’s environmental damage, the responsible party must be held responsible for cleaning it up, and the independent oil and gas producers, who are not responsible for the damage, must be protected from lawsuits.”

A recent LSU study concluded that legacy lawsuits caused Louisiana to lose $6.8 billion in drilling investments over the past eight years.

There are 11 bills in the Louisiana House and five in the state Senate related to legacy lawsuits. Backers include the competing interests of the oil and gas industry and landowners.…