Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies

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Treatment of petrochemical wastewater and produced water from oil and gas

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Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies

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You've successfully reported this review. Senate Bill 4 includes stringent regulations, according to Habel.

It requires a study of well stimulation, a statewide environmental impact report, and the development of well stimulation regulations for the onshore and the offshore. Senate Bill 4 also requires groundwater monitoring plans, permits for well stimulation, and increased transparency through public disclosure and notification to adjacent landowners. The bill also establishes procedures for protecting trade secrets and amendments to the oil and gas fee structure. These regulations aim to protect drinking water, the environment, and public health and safety.

Habel noted that the first step in regulating well stimulation treatment is to evaluate nearby wells to ensure there were no old, poorly constructed wells that would provide a conduit outside of the intended zone and geology to ensure there was no natural conduit that could become problematic. Then pre-fracture well testing is conducted, allowing for water well testing in the case of concerns about contaminants, and notifications are provided to both the Division and the public.

Monitoring is also required during and after the fracturing operations, Habel continued, and information about the materials used in the fracturing fluid are disclosed to the public. The regulations also cover methods for storage of these fluids. The Division protects fresh waters in the hydrocarbon zone by ensuring that the wells have mechanical integrity i. Habel emphasized that while such practices were always occurring, they are now officially regulated.

The tenant has the right to request sampling of the well or of the surface water, and expenses for such testing will be paid by the operator and conducted by a certified laboratory. When the Division was first developing the regulations, he remarked, there was much concern about seismicity associated with hydraulic fracturing.

If there were to be seismic activity during fracturing, the operations would stop and investigations would begin although this is unlikely, given that most of their fracturing occurs in shallow waters. Because water is so important in drought-ridden California, operators handle fluids associated with well stimulation carefully. All of the fracturing fluid recovered from a fractured well has to be reinjected, which causes some challenges for California because some fields produce oil with fresh water and some of that water is then used to water non-food crops.

Monitoring is also conducted on production pressures post-stimulation, in which samples are collected both immediately after the well stimulation and 30 days later to ensure that there are no anomalies associated with hydraulic fracturing. Because people are concerned about acid being put in wells located near fresh water, all uses of acid are recoded in these reports to distinguish between regular well maintenance and an acid job.

Habel emphasized that the Division has paid special attention to keeping everything in the zone of intent—even if acid goes into the hydrocarbon zone, it is unlikely to cause any problems to fresh water. These regulations would apply in offshore and state waters as well. During the reporting period, there were well stimulation treatments performed in the onshore environment.

According to Habel, there were no well failures associated with hydraulic fracturing and no emergency responses to spills or releases in Sundararajan suggested that emissions management in the onshore is more pressing than that in the offshore—offshore operations are already heavily regulated and thus have better emissions control than onshore operations.

He explained that a good air emissions program would be comprised of science, technology, operator protocols, and policy STOP. He believes that all four have to come together; otherwise, the industry will never be in control of acceptable emissions or have strong climate policies for oil and gas operations.


Sundararajan added that while emissions-related technology has evolved, outdated emissions factors are still used for emissions reporting both onshore and offshore. Sundararajan explained that although the U. He commented on the importance of having a robust methodology for emissions estimation and noted that bottom-up approaches to emissions inventories have been supported in the past by industry and by regulators. Bottom-up approaches involve conducting measurements at the component level where the emissions occur, developing a mathematical model, and extrapolating emissions.

In the past 10 to 20 years, NOAA has been working to better understand the emissions footprint from the oil and gas industry from a top-down fashion. NOAA has combined effective measurement technologies and techniques with strong algorithms to create box models and allocate emissions. In addition, NOAA has installed analytical instrumentation on airplanes, because measurements observed 20, feet into the atmosphere likely indicate an issue emerging from the operations on the ground.

He explained that if the right methodology for emissions estimation is developed, policy makers can more appropriately regulate the oil and gas industry. The new methodology includes a focus on measuring performance, recognizing what operators and instruments look like, and understanding the types of maintenance protocols that are implemented, all of which play a role in reducing emissions. The Norwegian Environment Agency continues to refine its methodology, given that more emissions are being reported from the offshore platforms than are actually being emitted.

Sundararajan suggested that the Gulf of Mexico could benefit from similar acceleration in methodological development. According to Sundararajan, regulators have historically steered clear of requiring continuous emissions monitoring on offshore installations, owing to the high costs and inadequate technology that exist.

He encouraged further dialogue between industry and regulators especially given that technology has advanced, costs have decreased, and accuracy has increased to revisit this issue and motivate better pollutant-monitoring practices. Sundararajan commented that continuous monitoring of methane, in particular, is emerging—the Environmental Defense Fund has a detector challenge, 12 and the Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy , has a program to develop methane sensors.

Where sensors are already installed, data are being collected and analytics and digitization are being applied to identify where equipment maintenance could correct a problem. This concern about methane has prompted both regulations onshore and discussions about regulations offshore. Sundararajan explained that there is a dramatic difference in methane emissions between the offshore and onshore worlds.

In terms of safety and process instrumentation, the onshore world is not as heavily regulated as the offshore world, which is why it is so important to invest more money and research in understanding the true footprint of methane emissions in the onshore arena. The participant also asked if an example exists internationally where this knowledge and experience come together cohesively.

Ray noted that the publication of all of these reports was driven by the desire for regulatory agencies to have information to properly manage resources and the environment. Oil and gas development spans a wide range of areas and costs, so justifications for investments have to be carefully presented.

Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program |

Ray continued that there is much cross-communication among governments and agencies, the concerned public, and the nongovernmental organizations internationally. Such synthesis activities are especially valuable for scientists because many academic disciplines do not engage with one another or participate in information sharing. He suggested that moving forward industry focus on what it does not know, what its concerns are, where the data are weak, and what needs to be verified. He emphasized that humans are embedded in the environment, and so it is important to model the fact that people are connected to each other and the environment in the framework and context of ecosystem services.

Sundararajan concurred with the value of conducting top-down studies offshore, and he reiterated that onshore operations would benefit from stronger emissions regulations.

Another participant noted that data on methane emissions for completion exist, but questioned whether the data are being transmitted up through organizations appropriately. Sundararajan acknowledged that industry has not always utilized data as wisely as it could and added that moving forward he expects to see data handled better and communication processes strengthened. The participant wondered how resources could be allocated to support this step in the process. Ray agreed that it is much more difficult to secure funding for proactive research than for investigating a problem that already exists.

He suggested focusing on priority setting and emphasized the value of being able to articulate a need. He added that joint industry projects, where partners can share cost, may be an effective strategy to collect data and anticipate potential problems. Montagna agreed that this is a challenge that has existed for decades: it is impossible to have baseline data without monitoring, but people are usually reluctant to invest in monitoring systems. He highlighted the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System, part of the international Integrated Ocean Observing System, as a successful program that collects routine measurements.

He mentioned that the industry would benefit from better, larger-scale monitoring in conjunction with better synthesis of information—for example,. Thinking about the function of the Gulf of Mexico more specifically, Epstein wondered about the process used to identify areas that are unique in relation to biodiversity. Montagna said the Gulf has many diverse habitats and protected areas would be beneficial to have because of the valuable ecosystem services the Gulf provides. He added that if humans take care of the Gulf of Mexico, it will take care of humans.

Another participant asked if different ecosystem effects develop when platforms reach end of life and are left in place or cut far below the surface. Montagna said that this is another instance in which it is crucial to integrate natural science, social science, and engineering research to generate solutions, especially because this issue affects people.

For example, he noted that while some fishermen love to fish on artificial reefs and offshore platforms, others believe fish in those locations will be contaminated and prefer to see them removed. He added that cutting platforms in half and toppling them over seems to be the most efficient approach, although this can create navigation issues for the U.

Coast Guard. He emphasized that it is imperative to ensure that no contaminants are added during decommissioning. Personally, Montagna favors the Rigs to Reefs program. A participant asked how the utilization of subsea dispersants has affected the overall recovery of a system. Montagna noted that this topic is still under discussion: Dispersants can put more oil on the sea floor, causing longer-term, more widespread impacts and mobilizing toxins in the food chain, but they can also enable work in the area because there are no fumes for the public to inhale. Ray responded that dispersants have been controversial for a long time and noted the importance of understanding the overall environment where the work occurs i.

The potential impacts on beaches, mammals, and wetlands if the oil is not dispersed are also important to understand. Resource managers and the environmental community have to weigh the environmental trade-offs with the knowledge base before making decisions about dispersants. Epstein said that the fact that no incentives are currently in place to push for oil recovery and to better manage major spills in the marine ecosystems indicates a failure on the parts of industry, the engineering community, and the regulatory bodies. Referring back to the discussion of Senate Bill 4, a participant noted that its level of monitoring required onshore and offshore is a significant development for the United States.

He asked what kinds of hydraulic fracturing data will be fully available to the public and to researchers. Habel said that the Groundwater Protection Council created a national database for operators to voluntarily load data about hydraulic fracturing, and the state of California created an additional space which contains extensive data on specific amounts and types of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing. Habel added that even though all operator reports are also available to the public which would include information on groundwater monitoring, downhole pressures, and post-fracturing monitoring, for example , he cautioned that fracturing in California is different from that in other sections of the United States, so the data may not be as useful for people working in other locales or for people engaged in other offshore operations.

A participant added that the Groundwater Protection Council is in the process of implementing a new risk-based data management system, WellSTAR Well Statewide Tracking and Reporting System , that will contain an extensive data collection. The data will be both downloadable and manipulatable.

He added that because hydraulic fracturing in California takes place at relatively shallow levels in the subsurface, one will not see many trade secret claims in California.

Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies
Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies Produced Water: Environmental Risks and Advances in Mitigation Technologies

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