Pipeline Spilled Oilfield Wastewater in North Dakota

A pair of pipeline leaked and spilled oilfield wastewater into a tributary of the Missouri River and over some pastureland last week in North Dakota. State Health Department environmental scientist Bill Suess said that on Tuesday, the cleanup was ongoing at the two sites where produced water leaked.

Produced water is a byproduct of oil production that contains saltwater and oil, and sometimes chemicals from hydraulic fracturing operations. The health officials do not yet know what caused the pipeline to spill oilfield wastewater.

"We still don't know what happened," Suess said.

The first spill was reported on July 14 that 21,000 gallons of oilfield wastewater leaked from an underground pipeline and into an unnamed tributary of the Missouri River. The second spill leaked more than 12,000 gallons of oilfield wastewater, impacting an unknown amount of pastureland near Epping.

Both spills were reported by Polar Midstream, a unit of Summit Midstream Partners LLC. Based on samples that were collected, investigators don't think the spill reached the river, and the produced water in the tributary was being pumped out and "flushed" with fresh water, Suess said.

 "We are focused on remediation," said company vice president Zak Covar.


New Assessment of Wolfcamp Basin Reveals It as Most Potential Oil and Gas Resource Ever

The Permian Basin’s Wolfcamp and Bone Spring formations hold more than seven times the oil North Dakota’s Bakken shale holds, according to a U.S. Interior Department in an assessment made on Thursday. It makes Wolfcamp’s oil and gas resources the most potential oil to ever be assessed in history.

The new assessment shows that the Delaware Basin holds more than twice the oil as the largest previous assessment of the region. That study was completed two years ago.

The U.S. Geological Survey’s new assessment found that the Wolfcamp shale and overlying Bone Spring in the Permian holds an estimate 46.3 billion barrels of oil, 281 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 20 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

Interior Secretary and oil and gas advocate Ryan Zinke said the news is an early Christmas present for the energy sector.

"American strength flows from American energy, and as it turns out, we have a lot of American energy," Zinke said. "Before this assessment came down, I was bullish on oil and gas production in the United States. Now, I know for a fact that American energy dominance is within our grasp as a nation."

The study is based on undiscovered oil and gas that is considered recoverable due to modern extraction methods.

MSN Money

Environmental Group Pushes to Stop Oil, Gas Leases in Oklahoma After Sunday Earthquake

The Center for Biological Diversity is proposing that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) withdraw 11 proposed oil and gas leases in Oklahoma after another alleged human-induced earthquake rocked the state on Sunday.

The Center for Biological Diversity claimed Monday that fracking and wastewater injection are posing risks to people and property and should not be allowed to continue. However, the BLM continues to refuse to analyze the potential impacts its oil and gas lease approvals are making on people’s safety, according to the Center for Biological Diversity.

Sunday’s earthquake was the third quake at 5.0 magnitude or more in Oklahoma this year, with there being more than 20 earthquakes that shook the state in the past week, according to an Associated Press report.

Studies have linked the increase in earthquakes in the area to human activity like fracking and wastewater injection, according to a U.S. Geological Survey study.


Earthquake near Cushing, Oklahoma Results in Temporary Shutdown of Pipeline Operations

Reported areas that felt the earthquake on November 6, 2016. (  Earthquake Report  )

Reported areas that felt the earthquake on November 6, 2016. (Earthquake Report)

A magnitude 5 earthquake hit near Cushing, Oklahoma on Sunday and prompted the temporary shutdown of some pipeline operations near the site as a precaution.

Pipeline operators who have assets in the area said no operations were impacted as a result of the quake. Some of these operators include Magellan Midstream, Kinder Morgan, Enterprise Products Partners, and Phillips 66.

All pipeline companies that run intrastate pipelines and fall under the jurisdiction of Oklahoma Corporation Commission shut down operations following the quake as a precaution and to check the integrity of their assets.

As a result of the quake, some gas leaks occurred but have been contained and are no longer a threat, according to Jeremy Frazier, assistant city manager of Cushing, Oklahoma. Electricity, which had temporarily gone out in parts of Cushing, is nearly completely restored.

Cushing, Oklahoma, the delivery point for West Texas Intermediate crude, has experienced a sharp increase in earthquakes to the area since 2009, which was the same year oil companies started using fracking methods to retrieve oil and gas from deep rock layers and inject the resulting wastewater into ultra-deep disposal wells.

Fuel Fix

Judge Denies Request to Open More California Lands to Fracking

A request by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to open roughly 1,500 square miles of land in California to use for fracking has been denied by a federal judge for lack of enough environmental studies on the effects fracking would have in the area.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Fitzgerald wrote in his ruling that the BLM needs more thorough studies on the effects the estimated 25 percent increase of wells devoted to fracking would have in the area. He gave the agency until September 21 to provide reason why he should not issue an injunction to stop the plan.

Fitzgerald’s ruling also notes that over one-third of the federally listed threatened and endangered species live in the planned area. The land also hosts many groundwater systems that are used for water supply for agriculture and residents.

Groups opposed to the plan say are pleased with the ruling. “This is a huge victory in the fight to protect our water and wildlife from fracking pollution and dangerous drilling,” said Brendan Cummings, Director of the Center for Biological Diversity.

President of the oil-industry group Western States Petroleum Association Catherine Reheis-Boyd said in response to the ruling that fracking methods have been thoroughly analyzed and reviewed, meeting the strictest environmental standards that are throughout the nation.


Backlash of Fracking in Oklahoma After Record Quake Could Slow Shale Play Development

Crop of Oklahoma Earthquake, September 3, 2016 ( USGS )

Crop of Oklahoma Earthquake, September 3, 2016 (USGS)

A record-tying earthquake that shook Oklahoma and was felt in six other states on Saturday may bring more backlash against hydraulic fracturing, which could possibly slow down development of some U.S. shale plays.

The 5.6-magnitude tremor was felt from Texas all the way to Illinois, tying with a record in 2011. Last year, 890 earthquakes were recorded as 3.0 or higher, a significant increase from a 2008 recording of only two earthquakes at 3.0 or higher, which occurred before the state’s fracking boom.

With an oil production increase in Oklahoma came an increase in wastewater disposal wells. As drilling companies use fracking methods to break up rock and extract oil, large quantities of wastewater are produced as a result. Drilling companies then inject the water into deep wastewater wells.

Many earthquakes in the state have been triggered by wastewater injection, and the Oklahoma Corporation Commission has been issuing restrictions over the last year to reduce the amount of wastewater injected into wells.

The weekend earthquake led the commission to suspend 37 wells in the state.

President of Strategic Energy and Economic Research in Winchester, Massachusetts Michael Lynch said: “[Oklahoma is] going to push the industry to come up with some permanent solutions. It’s hard to believe Oklahoma would ban fracking, but I can see where they would say to people that they have to do something else with the wastewater, which is believed to be the source of the increase in earthquakes,” according to Bloomberg.


Colorado Dodges Loss of $10-billion-a-year Oil and Gas Output

A proposal to significantly limit oil and gas drilling in Colorado failed to meet the required amount of signatures, freeing Colorado from what would have been a detrimental blow to the state’s oil and gas production

The proposal, called Initiative No. 78, called for the halt of drilling near Colorado homes but still needed 21,000 more signatures to qualify for a ballot vote.

According to a Bloomberg Intelligence analysis, Colorado is currently the sixth-largest gas producer state in the U.S. The proposal, if passed, had the potential to wipe out 90% of the state’s barred drilling.

Groups that helped gather signatures are calling the result an uphill battle and said they will continue to fight to protect fellow Coloradans’ health and the “natural beauty of [their] state."

Fuel Fix

Opponents Practice National Day of Action Against Atlantic Coast Pipeline

opponents practice national day of action against atlantic coast pipeline

Opponents of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline will practice a “national day of action” on Thursday, protesting not only the pipeline but also fracking and fossil fuels.

The day of protest, an event that has been called “Hands Across Our Land,” will start in Augusta, Virginia and is being sponsored by Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Protestors are arguing that fossil fuels, fracking, pipelines, and other ways to extract and move natural gas, coal, and oil have negative impacts on forestland and water. Jennifer Lewis, member of a local group called Friends in Augusta, said these issues need to be addressed.

Lewis said she plans to have a chain of humans standing together during the events. She said the group is encouraging anyone and everyone show up for the protests.

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline has been issued a regulatory review timeline by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which said the 18-month construction of the pipeline could start by September of 2017. The pipeline would run from West Virginia to North Carolina.

Dominion Resources and other industry experts say the pipeline is necessary in order to meet the electricity demands of a growing population.

Opponents to the line believe the growing demand can be met by renewable energy resources like wind and solar. Others believe that although using renewable resource is a possibility, it is not a realistic one as it would take several years for wind or solar power to meet the needs for the region.

The News Virginian