Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Oil companies protect Middle Eastern coral reefs

Various oil companies are taking an interest in research projects to advance the conservation, management, and sustainable use of coral reefs in the Middle East. Coral reefs, home to fish and other marine animals, have a very slow growth rate. In previous decades, researchers have blamed the oil industry for damaging coral reefs.

Saudi Aramco installed 36 moored buoys around the coral-reef islands of Jana, Karan, and Kuran. The oil company worked with Saudi Arabia’s Environmental Protection Department to provide fishing boats and recreational-dive vessels with an alternative to dropping anchors in the Red Sea.

Boaters hook their lines to the buoy pickup line—preventing coral colonies from being damaged by anchors and their steel chains.

In the southern Arabian Gulf off Abu Dhabi and eastern Qatar, Dolphin Energy Ltd. contributed $500,000 to a coral study coordinated by the World Wide Fund for Nature.
Total SA and Occidental Petroleum Corp. helped finance that study, “Coral Reef Investigation in Abu Dhabi and Eastern Qatar.”

Total owns 39.62% interest in Yeman LNG project. During project planning, the stakeholders hired a French consultancy, Creocean, whose marine environmental researchers identified 79 species of coral, of which some are 400 years old. Consequently, Yemen LNG redesigned part of its site and shoreline work in the port of Balhaf on the Gulf of Aden in southern Yemen to protect the coral.

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Natural gas industry says it’s not responsible for Monongahela River pollution

The Marcellus Shale Committee said natural gas development is not a significant contributor to increased levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the Monongahela River.

Test results from water drawn in early August showed microscopic TDS amounts exceeded acceptable levels for drinking water established by federal and state authorities.

The US Environmental Protection Agency is talking with Pennsylvania and West Virginia environmental officials to determine the scope of the problem throughout the watershed and find solutions, said the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

The Marcellus Shale Committee noted the natural gas industry complies with Pennsylvania state standards established in October 2008 regarding the handling of the gas industry’s water discharges.

“The natural gas industry almost entirely eliminated water sent to treatment plants along the Monongahela River, equal to a rate of 1% of the total effluent discharge at each permitted facility,” the committee said.

Nearly all water used in gas development in western Pennsylvania is recycled, said the committee, which is jointly sponsored by the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association and the Independent Oil and Gas Association of Pennsylvania.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Some see offshore wind power picking up

UK-based analyst Douglas-Westwood Ltd. said the offshore wind industry is showing growth with record levels of capacity now under construction. The benefits are that wind farms in deep ocean waters would not ruin beachside views, but the drawbacks are the costs. As the offshore oil industry already knows, expenses in general tend to increase in deeper, more distant waters.

In a report entitled “World Offshore Wind Report 2009-13,” Douglas-Westwood said 6.6 Gw of new capacity is expected to be installed globally within 5 years. That compares with 1.5 Gw of capacity now online.

The UK is dominant with 3 Gw of new capacity forecast to be added through 2013. Douglas-Westwood said. Germany is seen as the second biggest player, installing more than 1.5 Gw of capacity during that same period.

“The US has made great progress through the new administration to establishing the necessary mechanisms to allow offshore wind projects to be developed,” Douglas-Westwood said. “Supply chain development must now follow suit, and work is needed in procurement, installation, and logistics.”

So far, the US has no wind farm operating off its coasts. It’s been suggested that wind farms could provide power for offshore oil and gas operations, but time will tell whether that actually materializes on any grand scale, particularly off the US.

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Canadian researchers work to update EOR methods

Oil companies have used enhanced oil recovery for decades, but researchers continue trying to refine and update EOR methods. Some are trying to reduce the environmental impact of existing EOR methods.

The Petroleum Technology Research Center (PTRC) in Regina, Sask., is working to develop a process they call solvent vapor extraction (SVX) to boost recovery of heavy oil reserves.

The overall research project is called Joint Implementation of Vapor Extraction. In the 3-year, $40 million JIVE initiative, PTRC researchers coordinate laboratory studies, physical modeling, and simulations with three vapor extraction pilot projects in the Lloydminister area straddling Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Husky Energy Inc. has a pilot in Edam field, and Nexen Inc. has a pilot in Luseland field, both in Saskatchewan. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has a pilot in Primrose field in Alberta.

Researchers are hopeful SVX processes could boost recovery rates from partially depleted heavy oil reservoirs having thinner pay zones, wormholes, and bottom water. Wormholes develop underground when sand is pumped along with oil.

The use of solvent vapor could reduce water use and carbon dioxide emissions compared with steam injection. CO2 emissions would be reduced because the use of SVX eliminates natural gas from being burned for steam injection. SVX processes do not require thermal energy.

The vapor extraction process involves injecting a gaseous hydrocarbon solvent (propane, butane, methane, or CO2) in to the reservoir where it is displaced into the oil, making the oil less viscous so that it drains into a lower horizontal well.

PTRC researchers say success hinges upon a quick uptake of the solvent into the heavy oil and upon 90% of the solvent being recovered. So far, lab researchers have recovered solvent but very little oil. In other cases, they have recovered oil but not solvent.

Labels: , ,