In their search for Utopia, some opponents of oil and gas drilling ignore innovation … What’s harmful now will forever be that way.
That isn’t true, but it raises a question for producers: What are you doing to reduce the negative effects of your activities on the communities where you operate?
Here are examples of the industry investing considerable time, money and effort to reduce its impact on the environment:
In Colorado, Anadarko is concentrating hydraulic fracturing operations in “Stim Centers”, locating those operations in a single location, thereby reducing truck traffic, and time and money otherwise spent on setting up.
and using pipelines instead of trucks to carry frac water.
Noble Energy is using “integrated development plans” to centralize facilities, reducing truck traffic and costs.
Marcellus shale producers are recycling 90% of their flowback water, according to Ben Seifer of Energy in Depth.
Statoil is reducing flaring and air emissions in the Bakken shale by testing a mobile system that converts associated gas into CNG at the well site. The gas is then used on the well as a power source.
According to the Environmental Defense Fund (not the ”Utopians” referred to above) there are cost-effective options to control methane, such as lower-emitting valves and other mechanical improvements.
Patrick Kiger in his National Geographic blog tells a similar story. I include his entry for the comments from the “Utopians”.
State regulators are focusing on leaking methane.
There is no doubt that many of these efforts are a response to the looming presence of regulators and regulations. That is to be expected. Industries tend to believe they are doing “enough” to satisfy their critics and would prefer to be left alone to run their business. That is not going to happen. Regulators exist to regulate, opponents live to oppose, and no industry can ever do enough to satisfy those two constituencies, even if it means more costs and burdens.
Why Does it Matter?
Why do I speak of this? “The wages of sin …” Oops, wrong venue. “The downside of rapacious destruction of Mother Earth … “ Too shrill, and generally not even true. Here you go: “Powerful forces are against you and if you don’t meet them somewhere in the middle you could be squeezed out of the process. The result will be excessive and unreasonable regulation.”
What Would Nanook Do?
The risks of pollution could not be portrayed more forcefully than in this musical interlude.