Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oil industry offers real information

Independent oil and gas producers established a web site called BRIEF, which stands for Bringing Real Information on Energy Forward. The International Association of Drilling Contractors and numerous other independent producers associations are behind this campaign.

IADC says the goal is to have “a rapid-response mechanism" to counter inaccurate information distributed through the general media and by politicians on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

Brian Petty, IADC senior vice-president of government affairs, talked about the web site during the 2009 IADC Drilling Onshore Conference on May 21 in Houston.

BRIEF is an informative site with links to various reports as well as a daily summary of editorials regarding energy-related legislation. It’s worth a visit. I’ve added it to my favorites list.

“EnergyInDepth separates fact from fiction about our nation’s natural gas and oil industry—especially on emerging policy issues such as the environment and taxes,” IADC said in a news release.

IADC notes that US oil and natural gas producers account for the federal treasury’s second largest revenue source with personal and corporate taxes being number one.

BRIEF’s url is

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Copenhagen to address tragedy of the commons

Lately, my e-mail box receives a lot of items containing the word Copenhagen in reference to the United Nations Climate Change conference scheduled there during Dec. 7-18.

US and Chinese leaders met in Beijing last month to discuss energy and the environment in efforts toward reaching some cooperative pact on climate change. The two countries are the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide.

Climate scientists are calling for a collective international political will to implement changes, saying climate models show human influence on climate has exceeded the natural variability of climate change since about 1970. Scientists frequently cite a phrase: the tragedy of the commons.

The typical example of a commons is to imagine a pasture open to all herdsmen who try to keep as many cattle as possible. The arrangement works for awhile, but eventually somebody adds too many cows, resulting in overgrazing. All the herdsmen suffer.

Today, countries are getting together and talking about the possible worldwide consequences of burning fossil fuels. The commons in this case is the atmosphere.

I expect to see a lot more e-mail items this year containing the word Copenhagen. What remains to be seen is how all this talk might translate into future business dealings for oil and gas companies.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Does Congress know about Environmentally Friendly Drilling?

Government oversight never will ensure environmental protection. Private stewardship is the key—people and companies doing the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. In the oil industry, this stewardship already is happening.

Some members of Congress currently believe they can better protect drinking water resources by regulating hydraulic fracturing at a federal level. I wonder if they know about the Environmentally Friendly Drilling (EFD) program. This federally funded collaborative research involves Texas A&M University, the Houston Advanced Research Center, and others.

David Burnett, an A&M professor and director of technology for the Global Petroleum Research Institute, has worked for a decade on recycling water from oil fields. His work focuses on using membranes to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing.

“Outlawing fracturing is like outlawing the trucking industry because trucks pollute. It would be incredible,” Burnett said. “It would just kill the oil and gas industry, which would kill a major part of what makes our country run.”

Gas shale plays require large volumes of water for hydraulic fracturing, which enables gas production. Burnett’s goal is to treat water used in fracturing so that the same water can be used for additional fracturing jobs.

He questions whether politicans understand hydraulic fracturing, which already is regulated by the states. The US Environmental Protection Agency in 2004 found no evidence that hydraulic fracturing posed a legitimate risk to ground and drinking water. The Ground Water Protection Council confirmed this finding.

Burnett said, “I don’t care about somebody being against oil and gas if they have their facts right.... Why should Congress prop up General Motors and make cars and trucks if we don’t have anything to run them on? That is essentially what is happening.”

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ExxonMobil reports zero marine oil spills in 2008

ExxonMobil Corp. reports zero spills from ExxonMobil-operated and long-term chartered marine vessels in 2008. That is quite a contrast from the 1989 Exxon Valdez tanker spill in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

The single-hulled tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef off Alaska, spilling 270,000 bbl of crude. Consequently, Congress passed the 1990 Oil Pollution Act requiring tankers operating in US waters to have double hulls.

ExxonMobil’s recent marine performance statistics was part of the company’s 2008 Corporate Citizenship Report. The company notes that its marine affiliates continue to provide safe, secure, and reliable marine transportation.

Marine affiliates of ExxonMobil help develop voluntary industry initiatives, including implementation of the Oil Companies International Marine Forum’s (OCIMF) Tanker Management and Self Assessment, a best practice guide for ship operators.

ExxonMobil said it’s committed to preventing spills from all its operations. The number of spills greater than 1 bbl in 2008 was down by over 60% since 2001. ExxonMobil’s total volume of hydrocarbons spilled in 2008 was about 20,000 bbl, most of which was recovered at the site of the spill.

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