Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Recycling Barnett shale water

Whenever I go out wilderness camping, the phrase minimum impact always is foremost in my mind. My earnest hope is that when I leave a camp site, nobody else could come along and know that I had been there.

I was reminded of this philosophy during the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission’s annual meeting in Santa Fe, NM, where the IOGCC handed out its stewardship awards for the year. The phrase environmental footprint was used frequently in the awards brochure.

IOGCC recognized Devon Energy Corp. for its water recycling program on the Barnett shale. Devon contracts with water treatment and recycling companies to conserve what IOGCC calls "millions of barrels of water" annually.

This is water produced when a well is fractured. Retrieved frac water is loaded with dirt, hydrocarbons, and chemicals. Typically frac water is put into disposal wells but Devon treats its dirty water at mobile water treatment plants. These plants also filter this water.

“Although these initiatives don’t provide a tangible increase to Devon’s bottom line, the company is committed to water conservation because of its vision of corporate social responsibility and beliefs in setting the bar high for other operators in the industry because it is the right thing to do,” the IOGCC said.

A quick Internet search indicated that Newfield Exploration also contracts with a water recycling services company. I would be interested in finding out how many oil companies do this, and I’d also like to find out about the costs involved.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Chesapeake talking about CNG vehicles

In my early days as an oil and gas reporter in Houston years ago, I remember George Mitchell proudly telling me Mitchell Energy converted its pickup trucks to use compressed natural gas.

CNG vehicles never really took off in the US except for some city buses here and there. But Tom Price, senior vice-president of corporate development for Chesapeake Energy Corp., is talking about industry pushing the idea of using CNG for transportation.

During a recent speech to the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission’s annual meeting in Santa Fe, NM, Price called natural gas “the only viable alternative fuel today.” He says US gas producers are “victims of too little demand.”

The most obvious snag that limits widespread use of CNG vehicles in the US is a lack of fueling stations.

The Boston Globe on May 23 reported European drivers can buy CNG vehicles from eight manufacturers. US drivers have only one choice provided they live in one of two states. Individuals in California and New York can buy a CNG Honda Civic. Honda only offers the vehicle in those states for lack of public fueling stations elsewhere.

Toyota Motor Sales USA displayed a CNG Camry Hybrid concept vehicle at the 2008 Los Angeles Auto Show. To convert the stock Camry Hybrid to a CNG vehicle, the gasoline fuel system was replaced with a CNG system including two CNG tanks installed in the spare tire well area.

At IOGCC, Price said CNG is a clean, affordable fuel that can power heavy and light-duty vehicles. In addition, he points out that natural gas is ideal for back-up generation for wind and solar.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

ExxonMobil's fire drills and flu drills

Oil companies routinely test employees at various operating sites to measure their emergency preparedness for a wide range of possible scenarios.

ExxonMobil Corp. periodically conducts emergency response drills on simulated spills, fires, explosions, natural disasters, and security incidents. In 2007, it ran drills in Bermuda, California, Cyprus, the Gulf of Mexico, Malaysia, and Sakhalin Island.

In addition to these scenarios, ExxonMobil also conducts drills and workshops worldwide to evaluate its readiness in case of a global influenza pandemic.

“Flu pandemics are very different than the seasonal flu that we all experience each year,” the company said on its web site. “While as much as 20% of the population of any country develops influenza during seasonal flu epidemics, less than one in 100 individuals will be hospitalized and less than one in 1,000 will die.”

But a global flu pandemic would involve a new virus, and it is estimated that up to 35% of the population could become ill, ExxonMobil said. A highly virulent pandemic flu could kill millions, and it could last for 12-18 months.

This gives new meaning to flu season and emergency preparedness.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Udall cousins take energy planks to US Senate

Cousins from two oil-producing states, both Democrats known as advocates for renewable energy, got elected to the US Senate. They are Mark Udall of Colorado and Tom Udall of New Mexico. Both serve in the US House of Representatives.

Tom Udall is the son of Stewart Udall, who served as Secretary of the Interior for Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. Mark Udall is son of Morris “Mo” Udall, who ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1976.

Mark Udall was co-chair of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. A Natural Resources Committee member, his priorities include reducing US dependence on foreign oil and reducing the negative effects of climate change.

He believes, “Americans have the ingenuity and drive to create a diverse energy portfolio and to find new sources of energy.”

Mark Udall says he is committed to increase funding for the Department of Energy’s renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development programs at DOE’s National Renewable Energy laboratory in Golden Golden, Colo.

Tom Udall succeeds New Mexico's longest-serving senator, Republican Pete Domenici, who announced his retirement after 36 years in the Senate after being diagnosed with a degenerative brain disease.

Tom Udall proposes an energy plan that includes US drilling, nuclear power, alternate energy, and conservation.

"Conservation is the legacy of the Udall family," Udall said upon entering the Senate race.

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