Texas & SE New Mexico Region
Texas and Eastern New Mexico encom- pass such a large area that environ- mental issues range from containment systems for offshore safety, to new re- quirements on hydraulic fracing shale gas wells to ways to reduce the footprint in the Permian Basin by looking deeper to zones once considered unproductive. Presentations from a spring workshop on Environmentally Friendly Drilling offer innovative ideas on technologies and methods.
Texas Imposes Hydro Frac Chemical Disclosure
On May 11, 2011 The Texas House approved the nation’s first law to require drilling com- panies to disclose chemical constituents used in hydraulic fracing. Companies drilling for natural gas in Texas will be required to report the fluid contents to the Texas Railroad Com- mission. Dozens of companies in Texas that drill and produce from shale gas formations using hydraulic fracturing technology will be impacted by the new ruling. The senate passed the bill because some landowners have expressed concerns that hydraulic fracturing could contaminate the groundwater aquifers. Republican Representative, Jim Keffer, com- mented, “Although there have been no cases of the process contaminating groundwater in Texas, the people say they want to know the contents of the fluid used in the process.” In North Texas the Environmental Protection Agency shut down one hydraulic fractur- ing operation, due to concerns over con- tamination. The Texas Railroad Commission disputed the shut down and the issue is under investigation. Some environmental groups feel the bill is to lenient and still favors the petroleum industry. The ground breaking move by the Texas legislature may cause the U.S. Congress to impose similar regulations on hydraulic fracturing nationwide.
Excerpted from “Texas House Approves ‘Fracking’ Disclosure Rule,” www.wfaa.com/
ml and “Advocates for the Environment—Though Pleased—Say the Bill Favors Business,” Houston Chronicle, May 13, By Ramit Plushnick-Masti, Associated Press.
Wild Well Control Develops Containment System
Houston based, Wild Well Control, a 36-year veteran of the industry, has a new mammoth
machine to plug out-of-control wells. Devel- oped for the Gulf of Mexico, the technique is applicable for in other parts of the world as well. Several companies are working on containment systems to improve safety and protect the marine environment. Helix Well Containment Group and Marine Well Con- tainment crafted theirs specifically for use in the Gulf of Mexico, while Wild Well Control has adopted a strategy to fly the equipment anywhere in the world. The goal is to be able to respond to emergency situations, like the Macondo incident in 2010. The critical element in the containment system is a 106 ton well capping stack. The block is manufac- tured by Cameron International of Houston. Cameron made the blowout preventer that failed on the Macondo well and assembled the capping stack that finally stopped the oil flow. Both Wild Well and Cameron say their experience with the Macondo well helped them design the new containment system. Wild Well says the new system will be ready for deployment by September 2011.
Excerpted from “Company Says Its Con- tainment System Can Go Beyond Gulf of Mexico,” www.rpsea.org/en/art/338
and “Emergencies Spill Response,” Houston Chronicle, www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/
Permian Basin Liquids Rich Plays are Producing a New Oil Boom
The push for new frontier opportunities for shale plays has discovered multi-zone oil resources plays rich in both gas and hy- drocarbon liquids. The Residual Oil Zone (ROZ)—once thought to be unproducable below the oil-water contact—is the latest play in the Permian Basin. Put together, the result has been a dramatic increase in drilling activity, nearly 100 more rigs than only eight months ago. However, because much of the infrastructure for producing the new oil is in place, the environmental footprint is reduced from what it would be in most “new fron- tiers.” Major players in the Permian Basin new boom are Pioneer Natural Resources in the Spraberry trend, and Concho Resources, Devon Energy and Fasken Oil & Ranch Ltd. in the Wolfberry play. The residual oil zone relies on carbon dioxide injection to produce the oil. The Permian Basin has over 70% of all the carbon dioxide floods in the U.S., so it is well prepared to handle the ROZ potential. Steve Melzer, Melzer Consulting,
Network News 13
Midland says, “Conservative estimates are that at least 10 billion barrels of oil can be recovered from residual zones. This is oil that never before has been listed in estimates of the Permian Basin’s potential reserves.” The Wolfberry play below the Spraberry is currently producing oil from ten counties in the Permian Basin. Jack Harper, Senior Vice President of Concho Resources, notes that the drilling strategy for the Wolfberry is to perform eight to 10 frac stages in multiple zones from the top of the Spraberry to the bottom of the Wolfcamp, an interval of over 3,500 ft. Addressing the infrastructure issue, Pioneer Natural Resources claims that owning five frac fleets, 14 drilling rigs and 25 pulling units helps to control costs and reduce long distance transportation to drill sites. Fasken’s Hanford Field is a good example of how
successful a ROZ play can be. CO2 flooding revitalized this mature play in the 1990s and injection in the ROZ is producing new oil reserves. Another play in the region with ROZ potential is the Bone Springs in the Delaware Basin in New Mexico.
Excerpted from “Liquids-Rich Plays, Residual Oil Zone Projects Have Permian Booming,” The American Oil & Gas Reporter, May 2011, p. 64-78.
Environmentally Friendly Drilling System Updates
The Environmentally Friendly Drilling Sys- tem Program created by Houston Advanced Resources Center and Texas A&M University hosts a website loaded with news about the program, presentations from a spring work- shop and testimonials from the industry and environmental groups. The goal of the EFD system is to integrate advanced technologies that significantly reduce the impact of drilling and production operations in environmen- tally sensitive areas. The object is to develop cost-effective, innovative technologies that balance environmental advantages with social tradeoffs associated with energy development. EFD has been developed with sponsorship from several federal agencies and cooperation with industry. Among the news articles is a discussion of the public perception of East Texas petroleum developments and an article on managing the Fayetteville Shale and ar- ticles on managing Eagle Ford development.
Excerpted from “Environmentally Friendly Exploration and Production,” http://efdsys- tems.org
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