Monday, 25 January 2016

Disposal of produced water during conventional oil extraction, and flowback fluid from fracking


The recent article “UK failing to learn U.S. lessons on fracking waste water” by O’Donnell, Gilfillan and Haszeldine (ODGH hereafter) is misleading, both in the way it describes events associated with fluid re-injection in the United States, and how it characterises the Environment Agency’s position with regards to the practice.  

ODGH describes at length the difference between produced water from conventional operations, and flowback fluid from shale gas hydraulic fracturing, and are correct to do so. However, under the terms of their own descriptions, the statements they then make using these definitions are false.

It is claimed that the increases in seismicity observed in Oklahoma are “linked to the subsurface re-injection of vast quantities of waste water from shale gas operations” (my emphasis added). This is not correct, and the USGS have been very clear in stating that this is a myth, propagated in the main by anti-fracking activists. In reality, the vast preponderance of wastewater being disposed of by deep injection in Oklahoma is produced water from conventional oilfields, and not hydraulic fracturing flowback fluids [1]. 

The same is true in California, where ODGH make claims of “environmental contamination due to leaks caused by poor borehole construction.” Firstly, we note that, as is the case in Oklahoma, the vast majority of such wells are disposing produced water from conventional oilfield operations, not flowback water from hydraulic fracturing of shale rocks. I also note in passing that the concerns raised regarding these wells were of an administrative nature, regarding how licenses were awarded and which formations did or did not qualify as protected aquifers. No actual environmental contamination is thought to have occurred: the State Water Resources Control Board found that “the injection wells have not degraded groundwater quality”[2], while CalEPA stated that: “To date, preliminary water sampling of select, high-risk groundwater supply wells has not detected any contamination from oil production wastewater.”[3] 

More importantly, I believe that through their selective quotation, ODGH have seriously misrepresented the position of the Environment Agency. Their full position on re-injection of flowback water in the document in question is quoted below [4]: 
Flowback fluid that cannot feasibly be re-used, is considered by us to be an extractive waste and may contain a concentration of NORM waste above the out of scope values. It will then require a radioactive substances activity permit for its disposal. You must send this to an appropriate permitted waste facility for treatment or disposal.  
The Environment Agency will generally not permit the re-injection of flowback fluid for disposal into any formation, whether or not it contains a concentration of NORM waste above the out of scope values. The re-injection of flowback fluid for disposal is not necessarily prohibited and may be permissible where, for example, it is injected back into formations from which hydrocarbons have been extracted and will have no impact on the status of water bodies or pose any risk to groundwater.  
The Environment Agency takes a precautionary approach to this activity and we do not consider it has been demonstrated that re-injection in these circumstances is BAT.
At present and in the absence of BAT being demonstrated we have determined that overall the long-term objective of ensuring good status of water bodies takes precedence over arguments in favour of the disposal of flowback fluid to underground formations.   
This is reinforced by our view that there are available and viable alternatives, namely disposal at permitted waste disposal facilities or by using onsite waste water treatment facilities. We consider that these techniques are a better environmental option.  
We will review this position in light of increased evidence from hydraulic fracturing operations and from the monitoring of underground waste facilities. 
The following image is also used to outline the EA position regarding flowback re-injection:

 

By neglecting to provide the full EA position, the ODGF give the impression that the EA are considering allowing “large volumes” of flowback re-injection in the UK. In fact, such disposal is very unlikely. However, the EA take the eminently sensible position that there may be exceptional circumstances under which disposal by re-injection does really present the optimum solution with respect to minimizing the risk of environmental contamination. I can’t think of any such conditions at present, but I think that it’s a wise position for a regulator to consider every individual case on its merits, and to then take the best available route to ensure environmental protection, rather than imposing an arbitrary blanket ban. Regardless, disposal of flowback at treatment facilities is considered BAT under usual circumstances, and subsurface re-injection is not, and therefore it is very unlikely to be allowed in the majority of cases. 

Importantly, even given the above position, the EA statement suggests that flowback is to be “injected back into formations from which hydrocarbons have been extracted”. ODGH appear to have missed the significance of this statement, because it renders most of their remaining arguments invalid. If re-injection is limited to formations from which hydrocarbons have already been extracted, then formation pressures will have been reduced. While their analogy with a clay-covered balloon is an interesting metaphor, it is not relevant to the situation at hand, if, as stated, flowback disposal were only allowed into formations that had already seen hydrocarbon production and pressure drawdown (if flowback re-injection is ever allowed, which as discussed above, is unlikely).

It is also worth considering the volumes involved. The existing onshore conventional industry in the UK disposes of approximately 12 million cubic metres of produced water every year. The Institute of Directors forecasts a UK shale industry developing, between now and 2030, 100 pads with 40 multilateral wells each, with each pad using 0.5 million cubic metres of water[5]. Assuming that 50% of this fracturing fluid flows back, a total of 27 million cubic metres of flowback will need to be disposed of during this period. In comparison, as stated above, the conventional industry will dispose of as much produced water every two-and-a-bit years. 

ODGH have mischaracterized hazard with risk. Hazard is the potential impact of a pollutant, while risk is the hazard posed multiplied by the probability of exposure. It may be true that flowback fluids have different chemical signatures to conventional produced waters that may make them more hazardous (although in reality the chemical signature of every fluid, whether flowback or conventional, will be specific to its geographic locality and rock formation, so the comparison provided by the authors is likely to be an oversimplification). 

However, no evidence is provided to suggest that groundwater contamination is more probable during flowback re-injection (nor have they provided evidence of such contamination from the USA). In fact, given that the volumes of flowback disposal are likely to be far lower, the likelihood of contamination from conventional produced water might be considered higher simply from a volumetric argument. 

With or without NORM, produced water from conventional oil production is usually hypersaline, and its spillage into freshwater sources would represent, I would expect, a significant environmental incident. The public can and should take reassurance from the fact that the existing onshore industry has been able to dispose of very large volumes of such fluid without causing environmental impacts. The risk of contamination, by either produced water or flowback fluid, would appear therefore to be low.  

I will close by pointing out that the authors of this piece are keen promotors of carbon capture and storage (CCS) for greenhouse gas emissions mitigation. I share their belief in the potential this technology; I believe that without it, the UK will not be able to meet its emissions targets; and I share their dismay at recent government decisions to shelve the proposed demonstration projects. However, many of the issues raised here by ODGH are in fact far more applicable to CO2 storage than they are to flowback disposal for re-injection: the injected fluid is in chemical dis-equilibrium with the in situ geological formation – indeed CO2 will dissolve into formation waters to create a mildly corrosive acid, which is not a problem for flowback or produced water re-injection; the CO2 will likely be stored in saline aquifers that have not been depleted, leading to the same issues with pressure increases and potential seismicity described by ODGH (the clay-covered balloon), only the volumes of CO2 to be stored far exceed the volumes of flowback typically re-injected[6], which will exacerbate the risk of larger seismic events. I would appreciate it if the authors could outline in more detail how it is that they can be fully supportive of CCS development, and yet believe these same issues pose a major issue with respect to the re-injection of other waste fluids.  


[1] Rubinstein et al., 2015. Myths and facts on Wastewater Injection, Hydraulic Fracturing, Enhanced Oil Recovery, and Induced Seismicity. Seis. Res. Letts.. 
[2] State Water Resources Control Board September 23, 2014, Item 13 - Executive Director’s Report. 
[3] CalEPA Memorandum, 2015. CalEPA Review of UIC Program. 
[4] Environment Agency, 2015. Onshore Oil & Gas Sector Guidance Consultation Draft, November 2015. 
[5] Institute of Directors, 2013. Getting shale gas working.
[6] Verdon et al., 2014. Significance for secure CO2 storage of earthquakes induced by fluid injection: Env. Res. Letts..

75 comments:

  1. Have you sent this post to the ODGH team?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi jgdes,

      This post has now been re-blogged on the Energy and Carbon site (with a small amount of editing by the E&C team). "G" of ODGH certainly will have read this, so I imagine the other authors will also be aware.

      Delete
    2. Hi James,

      Response to your post is now up at the end of the original article on Energy and Carbon here: http://energyandcarbon.com/uk-failing-lessons-fracking-waste-water/

      Sorry its taken a while, been snowed under with undergraduate teaching of late.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What is the source for the statement that "The existing onshore conventional industry in the UK disposes of approximately 12 million cubic metres of produced water every year"? That seems like an awful lot. Did you mean to say the offshore industry?

    ReplyDelete
  4. DECC. And if it seems like an awful lot, it's really not compared to a lot of other conventional oil plays.

    For example, produced water volumes for the UK North Sea are approximately 200 million cubic metres per year (http://oilandgasuk.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/Environment-Report-2015-FINAL-for-PDF-reduced.pdf).

    So no, I did not mean to say the offshore industry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do you have a link? Specific report? Thanks

      Delete
    2. Why not start with DECC's UK Production Data Releases, which would be the obvious place to look, I'd have thought.

      https://itportal.decc.gov.uk/pprs/report4.pdf

      Delete
    3. Thanks. These are mainly data about offshore operations. I looked on pp. 7 and 8 at the data on monthly water production (barrels per day) for Land Oil Fields. On the available data from the last 12 months, it seems - if my calculations are accurate, happy to be corrected - that about 30 million m3 of water was produced and this mainly from Wytch Farm. The data do not confirm that 12 million cubic water was disposed. I am looking for a specific source on the 12 million cubic meters of conventional oil & gas produced water that has been disposed on a yearly basis. It is an important element in the debate about the feasibility of injecting large volumes of waste water from onshore oil & gas operations. Thank you.

      Delete
    4. <a href="https://itportal.decc.gov.uk/pprs/report2.pdf>https://itportal.decc.gov.uk/pprs/report2.pdf</a>

      The 12 million is now out of date (was the number from a couple of years ago). Now it's 17 million m3 - volumes generally get larger through time, as more water is produced for less oil as reservoirs mature.

      Delete
  5. Off topic but (if you can stand it) any chance of you casting your eye over David Smythe's latest open-source paper "Hydraulic fracturing in thick shale basins: problems in identifying faults in the Bowland and Weald Basin". Thanks in anticipation.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Already have done. Look in the "Discussion" section on the Solid Earth page.

      Delete
  6. It doesn't add up...8 March 2016 at 11:55

    I would hate to think you missed this story:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-35752099

    Football supporters cause 0.3ML quake.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks a lot for sharing such a good source with all, i
    appreciate your efforts taken for the same. I found this worth sharing and must share this with all.
    Bangalore
    Website Design Company

    ReplyDelete
  8. It doesn't add up...12 July 2016 at 09:54

    I'm sure you will have spotted this, but for the benefit of those who still visit the site from time to time here it is:

    http://energyindepth.org/ohio/uc-study-claiming-air-pollution-from-fracking-quietly-retracted-due-to-bad-data/

    ReplyDelete
  9. Good! Useful
    --------------
    I'm working in the thay man hinh xiaomi. It's amazing. And i realy like thay man hinh xiaomi mi4 so much

    ReplyDelete
  10. By developing inexpensive oil extraction and purification processes is becoming a major challenge which facing both the micro-algae to bio-product, and bio-fuel industries.
    sewage treatment service

    ReplyDelete
  11. I want to thank Julia Navaro for the loan given to me by her loan company NAVARO LOAN COMPANY. Needed a loan to start a my boutique and didn't know how to get a loan until I was introduce to NAVARO LOAN COMPANY by a friend online and she approved my loan of $300,000 with minimum income of $10 and now am a successful woman. If you need any type of loan from any country and of any amount at an interest rate of 2% contact Julia Navaro at
    Navaroloancompany@yahoo.com and live a happy life.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hello Everybody!!!
    Can you give me some minutes for introduct my service? I'm providing:cool: máy tập bụng | and máy tập cơ bụng New Six Pack Care đạp chân | and special is xe đạp tập thể dục | and máy xay đậu nành | and máy xay sinh tố | and máy tập bụng SIXPACKCARE 2018 | and máy ép miệng cốc D6. Contact with me.
    Thanks for reading! And have a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hello Everybody!
    Can you give me some minutes for introduct my service? I"m providing máy xay đậu nành | Special is máy bào đá | and máy xay đậu nành đa năng Q10 | and máy bào đá tuyết ET200 | and máy bào đá ZY-SB114 | and xe đạp thể dục IBIKE 8.2i | and xe đạp thể dục IBIKE 4000. Contact with me.
    Thanks for reading! And have a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Hello Everybody!
    Can you give me some minutes for introduct my service? I"m providing máy xay sinh tố | Special is máy làm bắp rang bơ | and bắp mỹ | and bơ làm bắp rang bơ | and máy làm bắp rang bơ bằng ga | and máy làm bắp rang bơ VBG 1608 | and máy làm bắp rang bơ VBG-1708. Contact with me.
    Thanks for reading! And have a good day!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Australian Risk Services have many years of experience providing plant risk assessments for clients across many different industries.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Nice Sharing..! I have been following you for a couple of months now but this is my first time commenting on a blog post. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience with us. Keep up the good work. Already bookmarked for future reference.

    Installment loans in Mississippi
    Payday loans in Mississippi
    Title loans in Mississippi

    ReplyDelete
  17. I got to know about the blog by my friend's reference.If anyone wants to read a good content...?Then this blog will be the answer for you.Such a worthy content out of it.
    Telecom analytics company
    Healthcare analytics company
    Finance analytics company
    Retail analytics company

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thanks for spending your valuable time in delivering the most valuable content here.I loved the way you write and suggest my friends too for getting aware of your blogs.
    Pawn Shops in Alabama
    Pawn Loans in Alabama
    Pawn Brokers

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for sharing such a useful content with us that Disposal of produced water during conventional oil extraction

    ReplyDelete
  20. This information is impressive; I am inspired with your post writing style & how continuously you describe this topic.


    Pawn Shop

    Pawn Loans

    Pawn Shops

    Pawn Loan

    Pawn Shop near me

    ReplyDelete
  21. this is really nice and effective blog, i found lots of information in this blog and sites for commenting is best.Very nice I like a lot of these topics...
    Packers And Movers Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  22. It doesn't add up...5 February 2018 at 04:56

    Surely one to write up?

    http://science.sciencemag.org/content/early/2018/01/31/science.aap7911

    I applaud that the paper actually makes a positive recommendation on how to reduce seismicity, rather than simply moaning about it.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Excellent Post...I must thank you for this informative news....
    Packers And Movers Jaipur

    ReplyDelete
  24. Packers And Movers Hyderabad Local Household Shifting Service, Get Free Best Price Quotes Local Packers and Movers in Hyderabad List, Compare Charges, Save Money And Time @ Packers And Movers Hyderabad

    ReplyDelete
  25. We Provide List Of Best And Affordable 100% Safe Packers And Movers Bangalore For Local Shifting. Professional, Trusted And Verified Movers And Packers With Price List.
    Packers And Movers Bangalore

    ReplyDelete
  26. You have discussed an interesting topic that everybody should know. Very well explained with examples. I have found a similar website transformer disposal,waste oil disposal visit the site to know more about coopersenviro.

    ReplyDelete
  27. It has been just unfathomably liberal with you to give straightforwardly what precisely numerous people would've promoted for an eBook to wind up making some money for their end, basically given that you could have attempted it in the occasion you needed.fire and safety course in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  28. You truly did more than visitors’ expectations. Thank you for rendering these helpful, trusted, edifying and also cool thoughts on the topic
    offshore safety course in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  29. Packers and Movers Chennai Give Safe and Reliable ***Household Shifting Services in Chennai with Reasonable ###Packers and Movers Price Quotation. We Provide Household Shifting, Office Relocation, ✔✔✔Local and Domestic Transportation Services, Affordable and Reliable Shifting Service Charges @
    Packers And Movers in Chennai

    ReplyDelete
  30. Help and support to settle Quickbooks Payroll Update Error 15276. The finance refresh did not finish effectively message in QuickBooks finance may show up when attempting to refreshing finance. When one of the records to be refreshed is being used and can't be supplanted may be the reason for QuickBooks Payroll Error 15276.

    ReplyDelete
  31. The Quickbooks Enterprise 24x7 Support Phone Number1888-557-6950 has numerous guaranteed professionals who are constantly prepared to give a moment arrangement regardless of the kind of issue you are confronting. The Quickbooks undertaking support has exceptionally prepared experts, who can deal with a wide range of issues one next to the other, in the meantime.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Here are a couple of steps which you can take after to determine the Quickbooks POS Error 100: Click OK to the error exchange box which shows up on the screen. Presently you should restart your system.Try opening up the Point Of Sale application in your framework.

    ReplyDelete
  33. And indeed, I’m just always astounded concerning the remarkable things served by you. Some four facts on this page are undeniably the most effective I’ve had.
    fire and safety course in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  34. Many people would like to check with the Norton Antivirus Tech Support Number USA to take care of the problems concerning the application. Although, persons will Functioning working experience improved get in contact with the amount that may result in an extended holdout time on the cellphone. This is the Norton Antivirus Technical Support Phone Number just in case you are trying to perform set up, activation or updating in the program package deal. Visit Here: https://www.ihelplinenumber.com/Norton-Antivirus-Customer-Support/

    ReplyDelete
  35. Accounting system options two key capabilities - 1 one of a kind is outstanding Pricing, and Condition-of-the-art inventory and these strategies explicitly meant to satisfy producing Along with other uprights that have to regulate lots of facts knowledge information. Website this system has 24x7 QuickBooks customer support phone number that has an instant response of accounting industry experts communicates anytime and from anywhere. While in the event, you may have any issue dial Quickbooks customer support phone number guide you to resolve your queries. Visit Here: https://quickbookssupportphonenumbers.us/

    ReplyDelete
  36. QuickBooks Error Code 80029c4a mainly occurs when one or more files for the program are damaged, or removed. This can occur when an anti-virus program mistakenly deletes a file from the program as a suspect.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Well with your permission let me grab your RSS feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million, and please keep up the gratifying work.
    nebosh igc courses in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  38. Apple finding a specialist in fabricating one of many gizmos offers the fastened aid that is unquestionably most remarkable. The field professionals at iphone support phone number are educated and supportive. These Apple iphone support number professionals pay attention to each consumer query with calmness Take a look at in this article and a focus and on which give the answers with the technique. Their devotion has any time assisted Apple Customer Service Number 24 Hours collection to become a kind of sought-ideal correct immediately after consumer support desks all through the total World. The entry read more read a lot more to All those authorities at apple iphone customer service phone number leads to it for currently being available. Visit Here: http://www.mediafire.com/file/wvuupqnnn9wwrxv/apple+iphone+number+customer+service+%7C+18883196555

    ReplyDelete
  39. There are many youtube videos everyone sees every time on youtube so we create a channel and upload videos on youtube next you interested to see our videos on Online Publicity youtube channel which helps you to promote your business with us.

    ReplyDelete
  40. At the forthcoming Happy new year 2019, don’t miss to single one the biggest new year greetings and give these commands to the people you appreciate. On 31st of December at the midnight send the picked new year cards 2019 to your close ones that mean a ton in your life. The goals for the happy new year are the quick words that are put here as volumetric gathering and trimmed from the large collection of happy new year greetings. The Guys and gals who love to share the new year are prescribed to give Happy New Year 2019 Quotes to their loved ones. Here we are giving top new year website where you can check the special and wonderful selection of happy new year 2019 goals.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Our strategy By performing so, it has transitioned from doing completely a provider of local exploration and related knowledge to being an enabler of such activities We Provides Best Web Development and Digital Marketing All Best Services Provides at Online Publicity

    ReplyDelete
  42. Our Uttarakhand hill station Tour Packages also cater towards the Hindu pilgrims who request salvation in ‘Dev Bhoomi’. Our tastefully crafted Char Dham Yatra tour deals by highway and helicopter and also shorter do them and Uttarakhand Holiday Packages which might be all inclusive will take treatment of each of the requires in the pilgrims and enable them to journey into the four pious Hindu dreams of click here Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath to hunt salvation in the almighty. Visit Here: https://bit.ly/2FDoxY8

    ReplyDelete
  43. Great article and I like your effort, keep posting. If any user has issues regarding Quickbooks then visit directly through Quickbooks Support Number.
    Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  44. QuickBooks gives secured services to its users to form life abundant less complicated. The certified techies square measure out there to produce an immediate and executable answer to each issue that you simply may encounter with the QuickBooks Desktop. It additionally includes 24 hours of full support, and you'll be able to avail instant facilitate from any a part of the globe. The QuickBooks Helpline Number stays accessible 24X7.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Hello,
    Your article is very informative and has a lot of information. I really like your effort, keep posting. If any customer wants some help regarding QuickBooks Updates then Contact QuickBooks Help is the best option for the customers.
    Thank You!

    ReplyDelete
  46. For Getting instant solution for QuickBooks Desktop Support to dial QuickBooks Desktop support number and all customer issues are resolved as soon as possible.

    ReplyDelete
  47. If any user wants quick solutions regarding QuickBooks Online Support, then our QuickBooks Online Support Phone Number +1-844-551-9757 is the easiest way to call 24/7 workdays. This is our toll-free number and provides users with a fast solution.

    ReplyDelete
  48. QuickBooks payroll support is a bookkeeping programming created by Intuit. Intuit likewise offered a cloud administration called Quickbooks on the web. The cloud variant is an unmistakable item from the work area adaptation of a QB, has numerous highlights that work contrastingly then they do in work area versions.QuickBooks Point of Sale is programming that replaces a retailer's money register, tracks its stock, deals, and client data, and gives reports to dealing with its business and serving its clients.

    Quickbooks Online offers reconciliation with other outsider programming and budgetary administrations, for example, banks, finance organizations, and cost administration programming

    QB additionally offer cloud administration QuickBooks on the web (QBO).






    QuickBooks Payroll Support


    ReplyDelete
  49. I’d love to be a part of group where I can get advice from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any recommendations, please let me know. Thank you.
    nebosh course in chennai

    ReplyDelete
  50. this is useful artical
    https://www.help-line-number.com/quickbooks/

    ReplyDelete
  51. These are a great communicator as well as their entertaining and humorous character will entertain and cause you to delighted. If you need full satisfaction, Then you surely have only the option to pay an escort.

    Bangalore Escorts
    Bangalore Escort Service
    Bangalore Female Escorts
    Bangalore Call Girl
    Escorts in Bangalore

    ReplyDelete
  52. Open up Aggregate Communication Publication or something which gross sales publications. Look through via self-enable books or everything on your Area of interest and get it Commence examining it and if you didn’t come across something beneficial in your life soon after ending and observing if totally. Must Visit Here
    property dealers near me
    Book Publishers in Delhi
    Foreign Exchange Dealers in Delhi

    ReplyDelete
  53. Hiring packers and movers in Gurgaon is not too hard if you take help of the best moving professionals. Best movers and packers Gurgaon assist with their skilled and trained team to pack, load, unload and unpack your belongings.
    So be aware and hire the best mover packer to save your valuables.
    packers and movers Gurgaon
    packers and movers Gurgaon Charges

    ReplyDelete
  54. KK Air Freight Services Pvt. Ltd.help to deliver your product Domestic & International Courier & Cargo Agents service, logistics, air freight forwarding, parcel services companies in Andheri east and west Mumbai. International forwarders services for the USA, UK, Singapore, Australia.

    ReplyDelete
  55. SPG Tech soft is one of the most leading website development company. it's an E-Commerce Website Designing and Development Company based in Andheri Mumbai. we offer website development and designing service with the best price.

    ReplyDelete