Wednesday, December 29, 2010

More companies specializing in carbon capture technologies

The number of companies focused on comercializing carbon capture and storage has climbed steadily in recent years. For instance, Aker ASA and Aker Solutions established Aker Clean Carbon in 2008.

Aker Clean Carbon was demerged from Aker Solutions so Aker Solutions could concentrate on its core oil and gas business, said Liv Monica B. Stubholt, Aker Clean Carbon chief executive. She spoke during a Dec. 6 North Sea CCS conference hosted by the British and Norwegian consulates general offices in Houston.

Stubholt said Aker Clean Carbon provides technological expertise and project execution to energy companies. Aker Solutions developed “green technology” out of its traditional oil and gas business, she said.

Recently, Aker Clean Carbon was awarded a contract to conduct a feasibility study for EnBW’s new coal power plant in Karlsruhe, Germany. Aker Clean Carbon will supply process design and estimates for the capital investment and operational cost of a CO2 capture unit.

Elsewhere, Aker Clean Carbon is part of a consortium led by Scottish Power. The consortium is participating in the UK government’s competition to develop the UK’s first commercial carbon capture and storage project.

Aker Clean Carbon also is compiling a front-end engineering and design study for ENEL’s Porto Tolle CO2 Capture Unit Project. The FEED study is scheduled for completion during the first quarter of 2011.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Is fracing becoming a household word?

Hydraulic fracturing received much publicity during 2010. Oil and gas companies along with service providers find themselves trying to educate the public about fracing amid rising criticism about the practice from certain groups.

A new national survey shows that 45% of Americans said they already are very or somewhat aware of the controversy around fracing. Infogroup/Opinion Research Corp. polled 1,012 adults Nov. 26-28 for the nonprofit Civil Society Institute.

Survey results said more than three out of four Americans polled would support tighter public disclosure requirements and studies of the health and environmental consequences of chemicals used in natural gas drilling.

The Civil Society Institute said the survey interviews were weighted by four variables: age, gender, region, and race to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population, 18 years of age and older. In addition to the national survey, the group commissioned two separate surveys for New York residents and Pennsylvania residents.

Kathryn Z. Klaber, president and executive director of the Marcellus Shale Coalition, suggested the survey questions were “structured in such a way to generate predetermined outcomes.” Founded in 2008, the Marcellus Shale Coalition is an industry organization committed to the responsible development of the gas play.

Klaber believes industry must continue to educate communities about the steps it’s taking to protect the environment. She said industry believes educated citizens and landowners make for the best partners, and she encourages any efforts that contribute to “fact-based debate.”

The Colcom Foundation of Pittsburgh has set up a Marcellus Environmental Fund. Nonprofit organizations are being offered a total of $1 million in grants to study gas drilling practices used in the Marcellus shale development.

“Who can you trust? There is a great deal at stake,” said John F. Rohe, vice-president of philanthropy for the foundation.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Oil and gas companies study drinking water wells in Texas, Pennsylvania

Some oil and gas companies are starting to consider testing water wells before they drill oil and natural gas wells. This stems from the debate about whether hydraulic fracturing threatens the safety of drinking water.

Cabot Oil and Gas Corp. faced water-contamination questions in Pennsylvania while Range Resources Corp. faced similar questions regarding its Barnett shale operations in Texas. The accusations have caused some within the oil and gas industry to question the quality of drinking water before any oil and gas drilling was done.

Meanwhile, Texas Railroad Commissioner Michael L. Williams on Dec. 7 accused the US Environmental Protection Agency of “Washington politics of the worst kind” and of “grandstanding in an effort to interject the federal government into Texas business.”

Williams made his comments after the EPA suggested that gas operations by Range Resources contaminated two water wells in southwest Parker County, Tex., where gas was found in the water. Range Resources issued a Dec. 8 news release saying research indicates its operations did not cause any methane in the water wells.

For months, Range Resources worked with the RRC and others on extensive testing of both its gas wells and the water wells of concern.

Cabot Oil and Gas said in an Oct. 19 release that it has proof that methane gas has been present in water wells around the Dimock Township, Pa., area for generations. Four Dimock-area water wells have methane levels in the water that exceeds levels suggested by the US Department of the Interior.

“We do not believe that our operations caused the Dimock water-quality issues,” a Cabot spokesman said.

All of this is causing oil and gas companies to consider testing the water before they drill.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Analyst contemplates fate of renewable energy tax credits

Renewable energy tax credits were set to expire at yearend, but they might have beaten the odds. Proposed extenders for energy tax credits made it into a US Senate tax-extenders compromise.

US President Barack Obama announced a tax deal late Dec. 6 in which he proposed to temporarily renew Bush administration tax cuts. On Dec. 9, Senate Democrates released a draft of a tax extenders compromise.

In a Dec. 10 policy update note, FBR Capital Markets analyst Benjamin Salisbury said he doubts that conservatives will oppose the Bush tax cuts because of the energy extensions.

The Senate tax-extenders draft includes a 1-year extension of the renewable energy cash-grant in lieu of investment tax credit. This applies to wind and solar. The draft also includes a 1-year extension of the ethanol excise tax credit.

Salisbury notes the draft did not include new incentives for natural gas vehicles as advocated by Texas businessman T. Boone Pickens.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Food industry contributes to fracturing fluid formulation

Halliburton has introduced a hydraulic fracturing fluid formulation made with ingredients obtained from food suppliers. And no, the fluid is not considered edible.

Compounds used in fracing are under scrutiny as some members of Congress question its safety. The use of fracing in the US dates back to the 1940s. Currently, the development of shale plays and horizontal drilling has increased demand for frac services.

Halliburton said its CleanStim fluid system provides excellent pumpability, proppant transport, and retained conductivity. Laboratory tests showed over 90% retained conductivity after 24 hr of flow. The fluid can be applicable over a broad temperature range providing up to 30 minutes pumping time at 225° F.

CleanStim involves a gelling agent, crosslinker-buffer, breakers and a surfactant. Frac crews mix the CleanStim formulation with water at the job site.

Crews on conventional gelled frac jobs can use the CleanStim fluid. In addition, CleanStim components can provide friction reduction for water frac treatments commonly used in shale, Halliburton said.

Labels: , , , , ,