Environment
The Associated Press | 19 September 2017

Lawsuit Aims To Block Oil Drilling on US Land in Nevada

Environmentalists have sued a US agency to try to stop it from allowing oil and gas drilling on a vast stretch of federal land in Nevada, where the government is reversing protections put in place 9 months ago under the Obama administration.

In this 9 December 2014 file photo, protesters rally outside the US Bureau of Land Management in Reno, Nevada, during the auction of oil and gas leases for energy exploration that critics say poses a threat to fish, wildlife, and groundwater. Environmentalists filed a lawsuit in Nevada to block an effort to expand oil and gas drilling on federal land. Two national conservation groups say the Bureau of Land Management is reversing course from policies it enacted in the final weeks of the Obama administration. Credit: AP/Scott Sonner.

The Sierra Club and Center for Biological Diversity say the US Bureau of Land Management illegally failed to consider potential consequences of hydraulic fracturing ranging from harm to the greater sage grouse to contamination of fragile desert water sources and emission of climate-altering greenhouse gases.

The suit filed last week in federal court in Reno seeks an order forcing the bureau to rescind oil drilling leases it sold in June for as low as $2 per acre on three land parcels covering about 9 square miles.

The groups are asking a judge to forbid permits on an additional 103 parcels totaling 296 square miles until the agency complies with the National Environmental Policy Act and other laws they say require a thorough examination of the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing.

“The Trump administration wants to turn public lands into private profits for the fossil fuel industry at the peril of local communities and wildlife,” said Clare Lakewood, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity’s Climate Law Institute in Oakland, California.

President Donald Trump has taken other steps to open up federal lands to energy production, including proposals to eliminate national monuments designated by former President Barack Obama.

Patrick Donnelley, the center’s state director in Nevada, said the drilling leases in Nevada mark the first time the Trump administration has reversed a draft proposal by the previous administration to keep some otherwise unprotected lands off limits to drilling. He says the government is flouting environmental rules “to push their oil and gas agenda.”

Hydraulic fracturing has led to a boom in natural gas production but raised widespread concerns about possible groundwater contamination and even earthquakes. The method uses huge amounts of pressurized water, sand, and chemicals to extract oil and natural gas from rock formations deep underground.

The lawsuit says it can release carcinogens and other hazardous pollutants into the air and water while emitting massive amounts of methane, a significant driver of climate change.

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg | 19 September 2017

Big Oil Becomes Greener With Progress in Cutting Pollution

It’s no secret that oil majors are among the biggest corporate emitters of pollution. What may be surprising is that they’re reducing their greenhouse-gas footprints every year, actively participating in a trend that’s swept up most corporate behemoths.

Sixty-two of the world’s 100 largest companies consistently cut their emissions on an annual basis between 2010 and 2015, with an overall 12% decline during that period, according to a report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) released ahead of its conference in London on 18 September.

The findings suggest the most polluting industries had started fighting climate change before President Donald Trump took office and signaled he’d back out of US participation in the Paris accord on limiting fossil fuel emissions. Now, as European officials say the White House may water down its commitment to Paris instead of scrapping the deal, the BNEF report suggests industry is scaling back the emissions.

“It doesn’t matter if Trump stays in Paris; it’s irrelevant as the states and big corporations are moving forward with clean energy,” Peter Terium, chief executive officer of the German power generator Innogy SE, said on the sidelines of the BNEF conference on Monday. “They’re not waiting. We’re seeing renewable energy becoming more and more competitive opposite fossil fuels like coal.”

Read the full story here.

Bloomberg | 18 September 2017

Forget Oil, Water Is New Ticket for Pipeline Growth in Texas

The torrent of dirty water coming out of almost every American oil well is the next big bet for a former fund manager for billionaire Paul Allen.

Getting rid of wastewater from onshore wells has become an increasingly costly problem for oil producers as US crude output surged in recent years, especially in the new shale fields from Texas to North Dakota. Drillers typically get about seven barrels of water for every one of oil, and some struggle to deal with the overflow that is mostly sent by truck to disposal sites miles away.

David Capobianco, a former managing director for Allen’s Vulcan Capital, is trying to change that by building pipelines to get wastewater out. His newly formed WaterBridge Resources aims to be a water-management company for oilfields. The firm is considering a public share listing within a year to 18 months, taking advantage of a US shale boom that the government expects will boost crude production close to 10 million B/D next year.

“Next to profitability and safety, water may well be the next most important topic for an oil company,” said Laura Capper, chief executive officer at EnergyMakers Advisory Group, an industry consultancy in Houston. “It has risen to the forefront over the last 5 years unlike anything I’ve ever seen.”

Read the full story here.

Reuters | 12 September 2017

Western Australia Halts Hydraulic Fracturing To Probe Risks

Western Australia state (WA) will ban onshore hydraulic fracturing while it looks into the risks associated with the drilling technique, its environment minister said on 5 September, making it the fifth Australian state to restrict the process.

The state of Victoria has banned hydraulic fracturing as well as shale and coal-seam gas exploration, while the Northern Territory, New South Wales, and Tasmania have moratoriums.

The blocks come despite a growing gas supply crisis in Australia, where a large portion of supply in the continent’s east is drawn from coal seam developments.

However, farmers and environmental groups are worried that groundwater reserves could be depleted or contaminated by both conventional and unconventional onshore gas drilling.

The Western Australian moratorium was promised to voters by the state’s center-left Labor Party, which won office at an election in March.

“We appreciate there is a level of community concern around fracking in WA, which is why we are commissioning an independent scientific inquiry,” said Environment Minister Stephen Dawson in a statement posted on his website.

The inquiry will be run by Tom Hatton, chair of the WA Environmental Protection Authority and examine the effect of fracking on the environment, water, agricultural productivity, and the community, according to its website.

Read the full story here.

Petro Waste Environmental Opens Second Landfill in Permian Basin

San Antonio-based Petro Waste Environmental (PWE) announced the opening of its newest state-of-the-art nonhazardous oil and gas waste landfill facility in Howard County, Texas.

Credit: PWE.

“We are very excited about the opening of the Howard County landfill, which now gives us two facilities operating in the Permian Basin,” said Petro Waste founder and chief executive officer George Wommack. “With its opening, we are positioned to better serve oil and gas operators in the Northern Midland Basin efficiently, cost-effectively, and in an environmentally responsible manner.”

The 144-acre Howard County landfill will accept oil-based mud, water-based mud, oil-based drill cuttings, water-based drill cuttings, contaminated soil, and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act-exempt nonhazardous exploration and production waste. The facility will provide washouts and other ancillary services. The Howard County landfill will be PWE’s second facility in the Permian Basin. The first facility, which opened 3 April, is located in Reeves County at Orla and provides the same services as the Howard County facility. Petro Waste also holds permits to construct and operate similar facilities in Pecos, Reagan, and DeWitt counties to service future activity in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale.

Oil and gas exploration and production creates various forms of waste that must be processed and disposed of according to strict regulations set by the Railroad Commission of Texas and the US Environmental Protection Agency. In recent years, technological advancements have helped exploration and production companies extract hydrocarbons from the Earth more efficiently but have increased the volume of nonhazardous solid wastes and high-solids-content waste fluids. However, the lack of infrastructure in the Permian and Eagle Ford plays capable of efficiently processing and disposing of these waste streams made it necessary to truck large quantities of the wastes over long distances.

Wommack founded PWE in 2012 to address this infrastructure shortage. Since then, PWE has been constructing state-of-the-art waste-processing and disposal facilities throughout the Permian Basin and the Eagle Ford Shale.

The oil and gas waste-processing industry has progressed significantly in recent years, and Petro Waste is aligning itself to meet the new challenges. Looking ahead, Wommack said he expects more stringent regulation because of increasing public interest in the use and disposal of exploration and production waste. This will lead to an even higher level of engineering standards in facility design and the construction of more institutional-quality facilities as environmental stewardship becomes a greater focus in the industry.

“Petro Waste Environmental is building its facilities and training its personnel with that future in mind,” Wommack said. “Using innovative, forward-thinking operations, we are reducing environmental impacts of the oil and gas industry today, and those benefits will only multiply as the company expands operations to other plays throughout the United States.”

Read about Petro Waste Environmental here.

ASME | 31 August 2017

Machine Learning Applies to Pipeline Leaks

The Keystone pipeline that would move crude oil from Canada through the US to a refinery in Texas has been controversial, but it would only be a fraction of the more than 2 million miles of pipelines moving oil and gas around the country. Many existing and proposed pipelines spark the same concerns from people as Keystone: the potential for leaks, especially those that go undetected for long periods of time.

Maria Araujo leads the SWRI team developing an autonomous leak-detection system. Credit: Southwest Research Institute.

Existing detection systems mostly spot large problems, often visually by inspectors walking or flying over a pipeline. Internal systems commonly used in the oil and gas industry rely on computational pipeline modeling, which searches for anomalies in flow and pressure. That works well for large leaks but falls short in finding smaller ones, of up to 1% of pipeline flow, says Maria Araujo, a manager in the Intelligent Systems Division of the Southwest Research Institute (SWRI).

Even such a small percentage adds up quickly. She notes that 1% percent of the flow of the Keystone pipeline is in the neighborhood of 8,000 gal/D. To improve the efficiency of detection systems, Araujo leads a team taking the technology to the next level using sensors, artificial intelligence, and deep learning. She came to the problem of leak detection while working with machine learning for autonomously driven vehicles.

“We’re not adapting technology,” she said. “We’re using existing technology as building blocks. The problem is very different. With cars, you’re looking for objects. Here, you look for liquids. Gasoline and diesel are transparent to the human eye. How do you differentiate between substances?”

Actually, the system looks for a variety of liquids. To begin tackling the challenge, the SWRI team tested four optical sensors: thermal, optical, hyperspectral, and short-wave infrared. They eliminated hyperspectral and short-wave infrared, keeping off-the-shelf thermal and optical systems.

There’s nothing unusual about using sensors for detecting leaks, but Araujo wanted to improve accuracy. So the SWRI team set out to adapt machine-learning techniques, ultimately producing a multiplatform dubbed SLED, Smart Leak Detection System, that uses new algorithms to process images and identify, confirm, or reject potential problems. Using feature extraction and classifier training methods, they taught computers to identify unique features across a wide range of environmental conditions.

“These algorithms thrive on lots of data,” Araujo said. The team produced and collected thousands of images of data such as gasoline, diesel fuel, mineral oil, crude oil, and water on various surfaces, including grass, gravel, dirt, and hard surfaces such as concrete. The images were shot from numerous angles and under varying conditions from full sunlight to clouds and darkness. “It’s hard to operate under different environmental conditions,” she said. “We found if you train [the system] under certain conditions, it gets tripped up in others, especially shading. Being able to work under shading and different temperatures was a big challenge in modifying algorithms.”

Read the full story here.

CH2M | 31 August 2017

New Technology Helps Clean Petroleum-Contaminated Sites

Natural source zone depletion (NSZD) is the new technical term for naturally occurring biodegradation processes that reduce petroleum, nonaqueous-phase liquids (NAPL) from the subsurface. Petroleum NAPL can seep into soil from oil spills or leaks, resulting in potential groundwater contamination and remediation challenges.

A carbon dioxide flux chamber collects NSZD data.

While biodegradation is ubiquitous at petroleum release sites, NSZD biodegradation processes are most significant within the source zones of the contaminating petroleum liquids. In this aspect, it is distinctly different from conventional monitored natural attenuation remedies, where contaminant degradation occurs outside the source zone in dissolved plumes.

Early on, CH2M recognized the high value of NSZD science and began working with a prominent research university to deploy new monitoring methods in the field and present new information to regulators, including endorsing its consideration as a viable remedial option and benchmark for other remediation efforts because it is critical to understanding the short- and long-term fate of hydrocarbons.

NSZD processes represents a paradigm shift in the way petroleum NAPL-contaminated sites are managed and remediated. CH2M has collected extensive data demonstrating typical rates of from 200 to 2,000 gal of petroleum that can be naturally degraded per acre of NAPL source zone per year. These rates are often equal to or greater than other active remediation systems, establishing that, in this new paradigm, NSZD monitoring alone or in combination with an active remediation can be used to more-cost-effectively remediate a site, yet still protect human health and the environment.

Read the full story here.

The Hill | 25 August 2017

Court Rejects Pipeline Project on Climate Concerns

An appeals court on 22 August rejected the federal government’s approval of a natural gas pipeline project in the southeastern US, citing concerns about its effect on climate change.

In a 2–1 ruling, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit found that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) did not properly analyze the climate effect from burning the natural gas that the project would deliver to power plants.

The ruling is significant because it adds to environmentalists’ arguments that analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act—the law governing all environmental reviews of federal decisions—must consider climate change and greenhouse gas emissions.

The case concerns the Southeast Market Pipelines Project, which is meant to bring gas to Florida to fuel existing and planned power plants.The Sierra Club sued FERC following its 2016 approval of the project. The environmental group brought a series of objections to the project and its environmental review, but the court denied all of the objections except the one focused on greenhouse gas.

The environmental impact statement for the project “should have either given a quantitative estimate of the downstream greenhouse emissions that will result from burning the natural gas that the pipelines will transport or explained more specifically why it could not have done so,” Judge Thomas Griffith, who was nominated to the court by President George W. Bush, wrote in the opinion. He was joined by Judge Judith Ann Wilson Rogers, one of President Bill Clinton’s nominees.

Read the full story here.

Siskinds via Mondaq

Is a New Treaty Governing Ocean Biodiversity on the Horizon?

A new treaty governing biodiversity and the use of nearly 50% of the world’s oceans is inching closer to realization.

The biodiversity of the world’s oceans are increasingly under threat from overfishing, pollution, the decline of biodiversity, and acidification, among other perils. Currently, there is little formal international legal framework through which countries can share responsibility for addressing (or recognizing) these issues. With the exception of some activities, such as whaling and fishing, the health of the high seas—and its biodiversity in particular—is unprotected and unregulated.

To address the issue, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution in 2015 to lay the initial groundwork for a possible new treaty aimed at protecting the biodiversity of the world’s oceans. State representatives to the preparatory committee responsible for developing a framework for the treaty negotiations have now agreed to recommend the elements to be considered in the development of a new treaty.

This new treaty would be formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS) and would focus on “biodiversity beyond state jurisdiction.” UNCLOS establishes the exclusive jurisdiction of coastal states over marine areas extending 200 nautical miles from their coasts, known as exclusive economic zones (EEZs). The new treaty would aim to promote and regulate the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in the areas beyond state EEZs and, therefore, beyond state jurisdiction.

Read the full story here.

JPT | 14 August 2017

Risk Assessment of Fluid Migration Into Freshwater Aquifers in Colorado Basins

Wellbore-construction methods, especially casing-and-cementing practices for the protection of freshwater aquifers, have been reviewed in the Piceance, Raton, and San Juan Basins in Colorado. The assessment confirms that natural-gas migration occurs infrequently but can happen from poorly constructed wellbores. Analysis confirmed no occurrence of hydraulic-fracturing-fluid contamination. The significance of these results is to help quantify the risks associated with natural-gas development as related to the contamination of surface aquifers.

Introduction
The prevention of contamination of freshwater aquifers has been a prime concern in drilling operations since the inception of drilling. Surface casing has long been the primary barrier to prevent contamination of freshwater aquifers through wellbores. The probability of leakage into aquifers from wellbores during shale development has a wide range of estimates, complicated by the presence of hydrocarbons at shallow depths in many parts of the world. An earlier paper reviewed the process and outcomes of a study for the Wattenberg Field in the Denver-Julesberg Basin. This study continues the examination of the contamination of aquifers in the subsurface during the completion and the production phases of the well and quantifies the risk of contamination of aquifers through failure of the wellbore for three other major basins in Colorado, the Piceance, Raton, and San Juan Basins. This synopsis focuses on the assessment of the Piceance Basin.

Barrier Definition. Common vertical, deviated, and horizontal subsurface wellbore-barrier designs were grouped and ranked on the basis of the risk of multiple barrier failures (Fig. 1). For the sake of clarity, pressure monitoring of the casing annulus [surface annulus pressure (SAP)] was not assumed to be an additional barrier during the production phase even though it is frequent and often required by state regulations.

Fig. 1—Wellbore-barrier categories ranked from highest risk to lowest risk.

Well-barrier designs can vary from field to field depending on geology, trajectory, depths, anticipated pressures, expected hydraulic-treatment rates, and estimated production rates. Whether a well is horizontal, vertical, or deviated has no significance with respect to the ultimate protection of freshwater aquifers because the wells are designed to protect the shallow vertical section of each oil and gas well. Multiple barriers must be in place near the depth of the freshwater aquifer to prevent breaching of a single barrier potentially leading to contamination.

Failure Definition. This study defines two types of barrier failure—potential barrier failures and catastrophic barrier failures.

Potential barrier failures are the breakdown of a single or multiple barriers in a wellbore that did not result in the contamination of freshwater aquifers or surface soil from hydrocarbon or fracturing-fluid migration but required remediation of the failed barrier to further enhance the nested barrier system of the well.

Catastrophic barrier failures are the breakdown of a combination of various wellbore barriers (casing, cement, and hydrostatic pressure of annular fluids) protecting freshwater aquifers during hydraulic fracturing or production phases resulting in the contamination of freshwater aquifers or surface soil.

Risk Assessment of Oil and Gas Wells in the Piceance Basin
The Piceance Basin underlies western Colorado. Garfield County comprises the core of oil and gas exploration for the Piceance Basin in Colorado and is the focus of this study.

The first exploratory drilling operations were started in 1935; however, ­concentrated oil and gas exploration of the field did not begin until 2000. Wells are drilled to depths of 6,000–8,000 ft subsurface.

Horizontal wells began around 2008, but horizontal-drilling activity is negligible compared with the vertical- and deviated-well counts because of the complexity of drilling a horizontal well at increased depths of 10,000- to 12,500-ft true vertical depth. Wells in the Piceance Basin are subject to higher corrosion rates because of elevated levels of total dissolved solids (TDS) in the produced water and the presence of corrosive gas. In addition, cementing wells can be problematical because of fracturing in the Wasatch Group, which is above the Williams Fork Formation target zone. The Wasatch Group is composed of interbedded shale and sandstone and is highly fractured because of structural alterations and thermogenic gas migration from the underlying Williams Fork Formation.

Piceance Basin Water Sourcing. A defined geologic boundary between freshwater aquifers and deeper hydrocarbon formations is not present in Garfield County. Water is sourced from surface water, unconsolidated alluvial aquifers that are shallower than 60 ft subsurface, and deeper water wells that source fresh water from bedrock in the Wasatch Group at maximum depths of 600 ft.

The Wasatch Group has evidence of natural fractures that can act as a conduit to shallower depths from deeper and more-mature hydrocarbon deposits. The deepest water wells in Garfield County are drilled to 600 ft, sourcing water from the Wasatch Group. Water wells that are drilled into the bedrock of the Wasatch Group have the potential to test positive for thermogenic gas without any offset oil and gas wells contributing to thermogenic gas migration to the aquifer. It is challenging to ascertain the origin of thermogenic gas that appears in water wells, because of the complexity of the underlying strata in Garfield County.

Piceance Basin Data Sourcing and Assumptions. Oil- and gas-well data were collected for 10,998 wells completed between 1935 and mid-2014 in Garfield County. Shallow surface-casing-setting depth was defined as a depth less than the deepest water well in the field at 600 ft.

Potential barrier failures were defined as any cement remediation performed on the production casing, intermediate casing, or surface casing or as presence of SAP.

Catastrophic barrier failures were defined as wells that had barrier failures that directly caused a conduit for hydrocarbon migration to freshwater aquifers of the upper Wasatch Group or to alluvial aquifers at shallow depths, which was corroborated by isotopic and compositional analysis from an offset water well.

Piceance Basin Potential and Catastrophic Barrier Failures. All wells were categorized on the basis of their original casing and cement. Potential barrier failures were identified by any cement remediation of any casing string or by evidence of SAP. Potential barrier failures were identified in 377 of 10,842 originally producing wells in Garfield County. Category 8 wells had the highest potential-barrier-failure rate of 30.00%, occurring in 18 of 60 wells. Even though this design has deep surface casing and an intermediate-casing string, the top of the production-­casing cement was not above the top of gas. Higher-risk Category 2 wells had an 8.33% potential-barrier-failure rate, occurring on four of 48 wells, followed by Category 5 wells, which had a 6.99% potential-barrier-failure rate, occurring in 125 of 1,789 wells. This design has deep surface casing, but the top of the production-­casing cement was not above the top of gas.

Categories 6 and 7 (lower risk) had lower potential-barrier-failure rates of 2.33 and 3.01%, respectively. Even though these wells had production-­casing-cement tops above the top of gas, they demonstrate the challenging geologic conditions that are present in the Wasatch Group, confirming the difficulty in creating effective production-casing-cement isolation and indicating challenges in preventing SAP from shallow hydrocarbon deposits.

Higher concentrations of potential barrier failures occurred near the core of oil and gas exploration. Of wells that were originally completed in 2003, 18% had potential barrier failures, which represents the most potential barrier failures for wells completed in a calendar year.

The higher potential-barrier-failure rates experienced for lower-risk wellbore-barrier designs in the field are because of corrosion or ineffective cement coverage behind the casing strings. High carbon dioxide (CO2) mole fraction and higher relative TDS from the produced water can lead to corrosion of the carbon-steel pipe wall if untreated. Proper treatment of this corrosion potential is needed to prevent casing leaks and deterioration of the pipe wall.

Nine of 10,842 originally producing wells were identified as having catastrophic barrier failures related to hydrocarbon migration to freshwater aquifers in the Piceance Basin. All nine wells had experienced high SAP before thermogenic gas detection in offset water wells. No evidence of hydraulic-fracturing-fluid migration to freshwater aquifers or surface soil was found.

Catastrophic barrier failures occurred in two Category 3 wells, two Category 5 wells, four Category 6 wells, and one Category 7 well. Seven catastrophic barrier failures occurred on wells that had the top of production-casing cement above the top of gas in the basin. This demonstrates the challenges in effectively isolating shallow gas shows in the Wasatch Group and the challenges of higher carbon-steel corrosion rates and of annular-hydrostatic-pressure barriers in the field.

Catastrophic-barrier-failure rates were observed to be common in moderate- to low-risk wellbore-barrier designs because of the challenges of combating corrosion of the production casing, of effectively isolating hydrocarbon migration with cement in the casing annulus, and of creating effective annular hydrostatic barriers at shallow depths. No evidence of fracturing-fluid migration to freshwater aquifers was detected in the study. Formations that are hydraulically stimulated are at depths greater than 4,000 ft subsurface. Even with the highly fractured nature of the Wasatch Group above the top of the Williams Fork Formation, it still acts as a solid geologic barrier, preventing vertical growth of artificially stimulated fractures to freshwater strata.

Piceance Basin Existing Conditions. Six percent, or 602, of the 10,507 existing producing or shut-in wells in Garfield County currently have shallow surface-casing-setting depths in relation to the deepest water well drilled in the county. Of these 602 wells, 143 currently have higher-risk Category 2 and 3 well-barrier designs. These designs do not have the top of production-casing cement above the surface-casing shoe.

Of wells in the sample, 3.48% experienced SAP, had cement remediation, or had a combination of both. This higher potential-failure rate relative to the Wattenberg Field is explained by the shallow gas shows from the Wasatch Group, the difficulty in eliminating shallow gas shows with effective cement coverage, and higher rates of corrosion of the production casing because of the relatively higher TDS from the produced water and higher mole percent CO2 in the produced gas. In order to isolate annular migration, it is recommend-ed that operators extend production-casing cement above the preceding casing shoe and routinely perform chemical batch treatment of wells to reduce the effects of corrosion of the pipe walls.


This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 181680, “A Continued Assessment of the Risk of Migration of Hydrocarbons or Fracturing Fluids Into Freshwater Aquifers in the Piceance, Raton, and San Juan Basins of Colorado,” by C.H. Stone, SPE, A.W. Eustes, SPE, and W.W. Fleckenstein, SPE, Colorado School of Mines, prepared for the 2016 SPE Annual Technical Conference and Exhibition, Dubai, 26–28 September. The paper has not been peer reviewed.

Milestone | 9 August 2017

Milestone Begins Construction of Waste-Disposal Facility in Permian

Milestone Environmental Services has announced the ground breaking for its new oilfield waste-disposal facility south of Midland, Texas. The new South Midland facility marks Milestone’s second in the Permian Basin and their eighth in Texas.

The site is planned to open in the fourth quarter of 2017. Milestone plans to hire approximately 20 additional employees to run the facility, and hiring is scheduled to begin in September.

The South Midland facility will be capable of taking drilling, completion, and production waste streams, including oil-based and water-based muds, drilling fluids, flowback, tank bottoms, dirty water, and produced water. Using its proprietary slurry injection process, Milestone securely injects a mixture of the waste streams more than a mile below the Earth’s surface, where they are safely sequestered beneath multiple confining layers of stone. The facility has been designed to efficiently provide full-service washouts for trucks and frac tanks.

“This expansion reflects Milestone’s deep commitment to the Permian. We are proud to enable E&P (exploration and production) operators to produce energy in a more environmentally sustainable manner,” said Milestone’s president and chief executive officer, Gabriel Rio. “With the addition of our South Midland facility, Milestone will be well positioned to serve E&P operators in the Midland Basin.”

“The design of this facility will provide improved safety, efficiency, and capacity, plus reduce truck unloading and washout times for E&P customers,” said Jason Larchar, director of engineering. “We have incorporated sound engineering principles and the best equipment available, as well as feedback from our customers and our operations and safety teams at Milestone. The South Midland site will be our most efficient, safest and highest capacity oilfield waste disposal facility we have built so far.”

Read more about Milestone here.

Splash 24/7 | 8 August 2017

BOEM Says Seismic Surveys in Gulf of Mexico Harmful to Marine Wildlife

The US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has issued a final environmental impact statement (PEIS) for proposed geological and geophysical surveys of the Gulf of Mexico regarding possible oil and gas development.

It finds that the surveys would pose a danger of significant harm to marine mammals.

Projecting for air-gun blasting over the next decade, the statement estimates millions of creatures—including hundreds of sperm whales, plus other whales and dolphins—would be harmed.

Air-gun blasting involves seismic air-guns blasting compressed air through miles of water down to the seabed in the quest for oil and gas beneath the ocean floor. Blasts can occur continually at 10-second intervals for weeks or months at a time.

Environmental group Earth Justice and the Tucson, Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity used the PEIS to highlight the danger represented to marine life and environments.

But the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Association of Geophysical Contractors (IAGC) criticized the PEIS.

An API statement said the PEIS was based on a “flawed interpretation of scientific data”. And IAGC said the PEIS “ignores the best available science.”

Read the full story here.

Read the PEIS here.