Water treatment has been implemented for decades to treat water supplies as well as “wastewater” from a variety of sources. Noteworthy are successes treating challenging contaminated waters, including industrial sources, mining influenced waters, and oil and gas produced waters. Passive water treatment is a process of simultaneously or sequentially mitigating contaminants and/or acidity and physicochemical properties in a man-made system. This is achieved by capitalizing on biological, geochemical, and coupled biogeochemical reactions, followed by the physical removal and sequestration of constituents. In its truest form, a passive water treatment system (PWTS) does not require power or chemicals after construction and can be designed as a sustainable system lasting for decades or longer with minimal intervention or maintenance. For waters that contain constituents of concern that are not amenable to treatment by naturally occurring biological, physical, or chemical pathways (e.g. sodium, chloride), hybrid or semipassive systems can be developed that incorporate energy driven processes, such as reverse osmosis coupled with passive water treatment.
The red arrow points to the visible glow of nighttime drilling on North Dakota’s Bakken shale formation. What is surprising is how this bright nighttime activity stands out from the normally dark prairie and rivals the lighting of more eastern cities.
April 2014 witnessed a key milestone in North Dakota’s oil production when it surpassed one million barrels a day. North Dakota has tripled its oil production in the last three years, with an average daily increase of 3,000 barrels. Texas and North Dakota together account for 48% of domestic oil production. However, Texas has long occupied the national consciousness as being the domestic king of oil production. Think of Dallas and JR Ewing with his big hat, office, and giant oilman swagger.
Trace Adkins worked six years on an oil rig.
According to Energy Tomorrow, 9.8 million Americans are directly involved in the oil and gas industry but where is the music celebrating their lives? You wouldn’t have to look far for country music about cowboys but are there nearly ten million of them?
Are you up to the challenge of Big Willy’s Frac Attack?
Big oil is surging in North Dakota and so are the appetites of the oil rig workers who have made North Dakota a global powerhouse in production. Big Willy’s in Williston has decided to meet the challenge of satisfying the appetites of the hard working oilmen who have spent a long day on the rig.
The Sons of Liberty dressed as Native Americans dump tea into Boston Harbor.
It was not a mob that destroyed the tea, but sober citizens. It was not a mob that were spectators of the scene, but a well-behaved audience looking upon a serious and most significant pantomime. It was the work of patriotic men, encouraged by patriotic citizens, who were determined not to be trifled with any longer……………
Oil accumulating on the coast of Louisiana during the Deep Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
No one disputes that an oil spill at sea is one of the nastier types of industrial accidents. Certainly, no oil company wants this to happen and works hard to prevent it as damage to the environment, negative public reaction, increased government scrutiny, and a big hit to company finances are all probable outcomes for such an event. The spreading oil sheen at the ocean’s surface is a visible marker of the harm being done to marine wildlife, fisheries, and the fouling of nearby beaches, coastal marshes, and other ecologically sensitive areas. Deeper in the water column more harm is done that is less well understood than what is more easily observed at the surface. During the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico scientists discovered underwater oil plumes, some nearly 10 miles long, which depleted oxygen and harmed ocean life. Moreover, oil accumulated on the sea floor and damaged coral and other ocean-floor dwelling organisms.
Don’t let their gentle exteriors fool you. These are scary methane-producing and climate-changing machines.
Cows may appear innocent but they are not. Behind the gentle, insipid bovine exterior lurks a greenhouse gas pumping monster. That swishing tail is not really for dispersing flies, but for efficiently seeding the atmosphere with copious amounts of methane, a most damaging greenhouse gas. Oil and gas drilling and refining operations pale in comparison to this cow-tastrophe.
It is rare to find an energy issue that the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the American Petroleum Institute (API) agree upon; however, both organizations endorse enhanced oil recovery through carbon dioxide flooding (CO2 EOR). This is because CO2 EOR has the potential both to facilitate the extraction of millions of barrels of additional oil from existing well sites and to address climate change by providing economic incentives to capture CO2, the most ubiquitous greenhouse gas. As explained by NRDC:
The country has a significant, untapped win-win-win opportunity to stimulate our economy and reduce our dependence on imported oil while actually helping to protect wild places and reduce global warming pollution: a process known as carbon dioxide enhanced oil recovery (CO2-EOR). According to industry research, CO2-EOR would give America access to large, domestic oil resources— potentially more than four times the proven U.S. reserves, or up to 10 full years of our total national consumption.
Pollutants in the environment are most often just resources that are out of place. Soil erosion turns valuable topsoil into a pollutant: sediment. Protection and/or preservation of topsoil is essential for timely, cost-effective reclamation and restoration of mined areas. Where topsoil cannot be removed and replaced in a progressive manner, it should be stockpiled and protected until such time it can be placed and redistributed on re-graded mined areas. This principle applies not only to area-wide activities—such as strip mining—but also to linear, ancillary areas such as roads and slurry pipeline rights-of-way. Everything that is needed for successful establishment of stabilizing vegetation in final reclamation is contained in the upper most layers of the soil—seeds, viable plant roots, soil bacteria, nutrients. Take care of your topsoil . . . and your topsoil will take care of you.
At present there are 441 operating mines in Australia mining commodities such as coal, mineral sands, iron ore, base, light and precious metals, uranium, and diamonds (Geoscience Australia, 2013). A significant number of these have an open cut or surface component to them. Open cut mines are usually easier, cheaper, and quicker to bring into production than underground mines, but often have a relatively short life-span, after which it may become necessary to move to underground mining to access deeper commodities.
Government authorization must be obtained to mine Crown or private land in Australia and land disturbed by mining activities must be returned to a sustainable post-mining land use. In more recent times, miners usually undertake progressive rehabilitation programs where mine closure planning is developed within the initial stages of mine operations rather than only being considered after mining ceases; however, Australia also has a legacy of unplanned mine closures, unsafe workings, hazardous mine sites, and unreclaimed lands, resulting from previously inadequate or non-existent mine closure practices and legislation (Smith, 2007). For example, in New South Wales alone there were more than 550 derelict mine sites requiring rehabilitation in 2008 (Nolan, 2008) where no individual or company is held responsible for their management or rehabilitation and no particular government agency has statutory responsibility for their rehabilitation (New South Wales Government, 2013). To minimize the risk of future derelict mines occurring, current mines are strictly regulated and must lodge a security deposit to cover rehabilitation costs if the mine becomes insolvent.
There are basically three kinds of passive treatment technologies for treating mining influenced water (MIW):
• Biochemical Reactors (BCRs) are typically applicable to metal mine drainage with high acidity and a wide range of metals; this technology can function with or without plants.
• Aerobic Cells containing cattails, other plants, and algae are typically applicable to MIW where iron and manganese and mild acidity are problematic and/or only trace concentrations of heavy metals occur. This method also can be used to polish biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) from BCR effluent and adsorb trace metals on to iron or manganese oxides.
Most passive treatment systems employ one or more of these cell types. For novice designers, selecting the proper technologies and arranging them in a logical sequence is a problem. This paper should provide baseline guidance. While the primary focus of the article is mining influenced water, the concepts presented may be readily transferable to process waters related to oil and gas operations.
Currently, Pennsylvania and Ohio are experiencing a boom in the production of natural gas and by-products from their respective deep shale plays. In order to explore and produce that natural gas, energy companies are generally required to obtain leases from the respective owners of the natural gas. Because Pennsylvania and Ohio permit the severance of minerals from the surface estate, the owners of the subsurface natural gas may not necessarily be the owners of the surface acreage. Often, the severance of the subsurface interests occurred anywhere from decades to a century ago, creating difficulty in identifying and locating the proper, contemporary owners. In order to combat such an obstacle, thus allowing for the proper leasing and production of the natural gas, both Pennsylvania and Ohio have enacted dormant mineral statutes; however, the laws of each state differ greatly as to how the dormant minerals are vested and consequently leased. This paper provides information as to Pennsylvania’s Dormant Oil and Gas Act (the “DOGA”); the procedures that must be followed in order for an energy company to properly lease unlocatable individuals who purportedly have abandoned their mineral interests or allowed those interests to become dormant; possible alternatives to filing a DOGA action; and current legislation being reviewed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly intended to amend the DOGA. Further, the authors provide information as to Ohio’s Dormant Mineral Act (the “DMA”), its legislative history, and the DMA’s current applicability pursuant to various trial and, albeit few, appellate court decisions attempting to interpret the mechanisms of the DMA.
The problem to be solved is the disposal of millions of liters (gallons) of production water and flow-back water generated annually from the Rocky Mountain Region oil and gas industry in an environmentally-safe, low-cost, and efficient manner. One such technology used is evaporation of the water in lined containment ponds after separation and removal of the hydrocarbon component from the water. After removal of the hydrocarbons via oil/water separation equipment, the water is “cleaned” further by being evaporated and returned to the hydrologic cycle, allowing the brine and suspended solids to be settled or precipitated to the bottom.
Three projects—in Cisco, Utah, Dad, Wyoming, and Cheyenne, Wyoming—were designed as case studies to evaporate water in a series of geomembrane-lined ponds. The projects use high-density polyethylene (HDPE) as the top layer to protect the groundwater and enhance evaporation.
In Alberta, 80 percent, or roughly 135 billion barrels, of the oil sands are buried deep below the surface and are not accessible by open pit mining. To access these valuable resources, industries use an in-situ extraction method called Steam-Assisted Gravity Drainage (SAGD). Because in-situ extraction takes place mainly under the Earth’s surface, less land is disturbed during the extraction process than surface mining.
In 2012, Alberta’s total in-situ bitumen production was about 990,000 barrels per day, a 16 percent increase over 2011. This accounts for 52 percent of Alberta’s total crude bitumen production. By 2022 in-situ production is expected to reach 2.2 million barrels per day.
SAGD is a thermal in-situ production process where parallel wells are drilled horizontally into an underground bitumen reservoir. Steam is produced at the surface and injected into the reservoir through the shallower of the two wells (the injection well). The steam heats the bitumen to a point where gravity allows it to flow down to the lower well (the producer well) where the mixture of bitumen and water is then pumped to the surface. The water and bitumen are separated at the surface.
Companies that must perform ocean transport, services, or construction should use a marine meteorologist when time means money. I have been involved in marine and tropical marine weather forecasting, hindcasting, and research for 40 years and the key to getting the most out of your marine meteorologist is communication. Weather Research Center has found that a good communication system between your operational teams and marine meteorologist operations can help to avoid or minimize costly weather impacts. Your meteorologist should be a Board Certified Consulting Meteorologist [CCM], a meteorologist certified by the American Meteorological Society, a Royal Meteorological Society Chartered Meteorologist [CMet], or a Qualified Environmental Professional [QEP] by the Institute for Professional Environmental Practice.
The key to understanding the impact of weather on your operations is to have dialogue where you communicate to the marine meteorologists your critical operating limits, weather window needs, and provide daily weather observations. This enables the meteorologists to provide you with information and forecasts that are tailored to your specific needs. The meteorologist should have a knowledge of your operation and how the weather can impact your operations in order to find the weather windows to provide safe operating conditions.
There are vast resources of both gas and oil in the Canadian Beaufort Sea; however, due to its harsh environment, this region presents unique challenges for evacuation and rescue. An installation in this environment will be subjected to several different ice regimes throughout the year and each must be considered in the design of the escape, evacuation, and rescue (EER) systems. The new ISO Arctic Offshore Structures standard (ISO, 2010) instructs that the level of safety at an offshore structure shall be the same year-round. For evacuation in particular, the standard also recommends having preferred (usually a helicopter), primary, and secondary evacuation strategies in place (Poplin et al, 2011). Approaches to evacuation can include direct (dry), indirect (semi-dry), or wet methods. Additionally, previous studies have shown that a single system for evacuation is not sufficient for the Canadian Arctic environment (see e.g. Wright et al., 2003a, 2003b).
Salt deposits are numerous and found in most regions of the world. The best salt deposits for both salt production and cavern storage tend to be either the thickest bedded salt deposits or salt domes. Without getting into the geology, salt domes are formed as bedded salt is deeply buried and compacted by sediment. The less dense salt rises toward the surface to form massive plugs which can be several miles in diameter by 10 miles deep. Those familiar with U.S. Gulf Coast oil and gas geology know that the Gulf region has over 500 salt domes, many of which have produced oil and gas from traps on the flanks of the domes. Both bedded salt and salt domes are of quiet but great economic importance worldwide, supplying salt as basic feedstock to many chemical production facilities, winter road deicing, water treatment, and food processing.
Hydrocarbons under the Arctic and sub-Arctic seas have been known about for a long time. Gas and oil were found first in the northward extension of the Prudhoe Bay province and in the Canadian Arctic Islands. Those discoveries were followed by further finds in the Barents Sea, the Pacific to the east of Sakhalin, off Newfoundland and in Davis Strait, and in the northern Caspian Sea (where despite its low latitude many of the ice problems found further north are still present). Many areas of the Arctic seas have not been explored. Currently there is exploration in the Kara Sea and the Chukchi Sea.
The potential difficulties are formidable. It will be essential that production schemes be safe against any possibility of environmental pollution. Some environmental campaigners are viscerally opposed to any Arctic development. They can reliably be anticipated to oppose every project on principle and will deploy every argument that can be dreamed up, whether scientifically credible or not. The current controversy over the Keystone pipeline to bring tar-sands crude to the United States illustrates the political influence of that lobby. Nervousness about any petroleum development offshore has been heightened by the recent spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It is being pointed out that that accident occurred in good weather in the early summer and that the immense resources of people and equipment in the Gulf could immediately be brought into action. In the Arctic, the response would inevitably be less prompt, particularly in the long winter.
The oil and gas industry, along with nearly all extraction industries, inherently provides substantial economic benefits due to its integrated supply chain, high-wage jobs, and propensity to sell nationally and globally. It brings in outside investment and often operates in rural areas where high-wage jobs are scarce and industry is fleeting.
Much of Colorado’s oil and gas is sold outside of the state, contributing wealth to owners, employees, governments, and schools, all of which are beneficiaries of oil and gas revenues. In 2011, Colorado’s oil and gas industry recorded $10.5 billion in production value, accounting for some 27,300 direct drilling, extraction, and support jobs with average annual wages in excess of $105,000. Coupled with the oil and gas supply chain within Colorado—transportation, refining, wholesalers, parts manufacturers, and gasoline stations—direct employment totaled nearly 49,400 jobs, with average wages over $80,000, which is 65% higher than the state average for all industries. Collectively, this industry contributed nearly $3.8 billion in employee income to Colorado households in 2011, or 2.9% of total Colorado salary and wages. In addition, $664 million went to private land owners in 2011, assuming private land owners capture royalty and lease terms similar to those of the government.
Throughout history, the rise and fall of civilizations often can be linked to how they managed their water. Because there is no substitute for this life-sustaining resource, it is incumbent on modern society to avoid depleting and contaminating our finite water supply for ourselves and future generations.
Water resources worldwide are rapidly approaching capacity for human consumption alone. Meanwhile, the shift to unconventional energy production — essential to the extraction of the planet’s abundant natural gas reserves—has created an enormous demand for fresh water supplies which, in turn, produces huge volumes of contaminated wastewater unsuitable for environmental discharge.
Through modernization of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing technology, natural gas has become a plentiful, inexpensive, and relatively clean-burning domestic resource that provides a quarter of U.S. electric power needs and promises to reduce reliance on foreign oil. The 350-million-year-old Marcellus Shale Formation covers 54,000 mi. in West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New York. It is thought to be the third largest natural gas reserve in the world. Approximately 9% of the Marcellus shale lies in the upper third of the Delaware Basin in a watershed that supplies drinking water to 16 million people (5% of the U.S. population) in Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, including New York City and Philadelphia, the first and seventh largest metropolitan economies in the nation. Almost ¾ of the Marcellus shale lies in New York and Pennsylvania where drilling has generated millions of jobs and billions of dollars of wages in Pennsylvania alone.
Any project that involves the use or transport of materials has the potential to release contaminants into the environment. Cleanup of these releases (intentional or not) can be very expensive and time consuming. Developing a well thought out contaminant control process before operations begin or when changing operations can reduce the overall costs and liabilities associated with the project.
A contaminant can be defined as any substance that causes harm to humans or the environment. Two main categories include inorganic compounds (lead, mercury, nickel, chlorides, sulfates) and organic compounds (benzene, toluene, ethyl-benzene, xylene, petroleum). They can be released as gases, liquids, solids, or aerosols. Once released, they can be spread out over very large areas by wind and water. The longer a release is allowed to disperse, the larger an area it will contaminate.
Hydraulic fracturing occurs when high pressure fluids primarily consisting of water and sand are pumped at high pressure into subsurface formations, typically shale that contains natural gas and/or oil. The high pressure fluid causes the rock to fracture. The new fractures increase the surface area of the shale and better interconnect previously existing fractures, allowing more natural gas and/or oil to be pumped from the formation. Modern hydraulic fracturing, referred to as “fracking,” is an evolving technology that largely began after 2000 and has significantly increased natural gas production in the United States in the past five years with corresponding decreases in natural gas prices.