USGS releases new Produced Waters Geochemical Database

Collection of industrial water news headlines.


The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has released its new Produced Waters Geochemical Database, an online platform that provides valuable information on a comprehensive list of chemicals, including major elements, trace elements, isotopes, and time-series data.

The database is publicly available to all industry experts and interested members of the public and is a key resource for scientists studying produced waters and their geochemical and environmental impacts. Accordingly, it serves as an update of the 2002 USGS Produced Waters Database, adding more than 100,000 new samples with greater spatial coverage and from both conventional and unconventional oil and gas development.

The database also aids in identifying each sample according to what kind of well it was produced from, the properties of the rock formation it originated from, and the physical properties of the water in the sample. The database lists seven different sources: conventional oil and gas, shale gas, tight oil, tight gas, coal bed methane, geothermal, and groundwater.

The USGS Produced Waters Geochemical Database is designed to be dynamic and easily updated with new data or corrections as needed. It is made up of 25 smaller databases, publications and reports.


Potential fracking processes place U.S. water credits at risk, finds report

According to a new Fitch Ratings report, hydraulic fracturing could potentially harm local water supplies, causing significant financial stress for U.S. municipal water utilities. Further, potential contamination, diminished water supplies, and infrastructure and cost pressure due to fracking could, in the worst case scenarios, cause severe and precipitous credit deterioration.

Despite some state regulations requiring oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used during fracking, these standards are subject to the federal disclosure laws, which exempt disclosure of certain chemical compositions that may be deemed trade secrets. Even if specific chemicals are disclosed, they may not be on the list of regulated contaminants and, as a result, may go undetected during testing and treatment.

Crude oil production in the U.S. increased 32 percent between 2011 and 2013. Approximately 90 percent of total oil production in the lower 48 states is produced in six shale plays spanning 15 states and 271 counties, via both fracking and conventional well technology. Utilities located in those areas face higher risk for contamination than others, and that risk is likely growing as the use of fracking technology is becoming more prevalent.

With 56 percent of hydraulically-fractured wells located in regions experiencing drought, fracking could leave utilities competing for water supplies. The amount of water used for fracking could be significant in communities already dealing with water scarcity, like those located near the Eagle Ford shale play in south Texas.


DNV GL launches global, risk-based shale development verification service

DNV GL, an independent foundation with the purpose of safeguarding life, property and the environment, announced the launch of a comprehensive, tailor-made independent verification service based on the provisions of its Recommended Practice for Risk Management of Shale Gas Developments and Operations (RP), regulatory requirements and other publicly-available standards.

The new service will be used as a tool to help assure stakeholders that an independent assessment can assist in preventing incidents, reducing operational costs and limiting the environmental footprint of shale gas developments. Best practices measured in the assessment process include environmental, occupational and process safety, human factors, well integrity, and other elements that may help address the low-probability, high-consequence incidents under review today.

The verification process determines whether a comprehensive, transparent risk management approach related to risk identification and mitigation has been implemented to allow sustainable shale gas project development or expansion.


System-wide upgrades aim to reduce polluted coal-mine discharges in five states

The Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that Alpha Natural Resources, Inc. (Alpha), one of the nation's largest coal companies, Alpha Appalachian Holdings (formerly Massey Energy), and 66 subsidiaries will spend an estimated $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment systems and implement comprehensive, system-wide upgrades to reduce pollution discharges from coal mines in Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia.

Overall, the settlement covers approximately 79 active mines and 25 processing plants in these five states. EPA estimates that the upgrades and advanced treatment required by the settlement will reduce discharges of total dissolved solids (TDS) by over 36 million pounds each year and will cut metals and other pollutants by approximately 9 million pounds per year. The companies will also pay a civil penalty of $27.5 million for thousands of permit violations -- the largest penalty in history under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

In addition to paying the penalty, the companies must build and operate treatment systems to eliminate violations of selenium and salinity limits and also implement comprehensive, system-wide improvements to ensure future compliance with the CWA. These improvements, which apply to all of Alpha's operations in Appalachia, include developing and implementing an environmental management system and periodic internal and third-party environmental compliance audits.

The companies must also maintain a database to track violations and compliance efforts at each outfall, significantly improve the timeliness of responding to violations, and consult with third party experts to solve problem discharges. In the event of future violations, the companies will be required to pay stipulated penalties, which may be increased and, in some cases, doubled for continuing violations.


Joint venture to provide complete water, fluid management solutions in U.S. shale basins

On Monday, May 12, a joint venture was established between Pinnergy, Ltd. and Shalewater Solutions, LLC to provide complete, integrated water management solutions to support oil and gas operations throughout the U.S. shale basins.

The partnership will operate under the name PinnergyShalewater, LLC (the "Company") and will be based in Austin, Texas. The Company will capitalize on Pinnergy's provision of diversified oilfield services and Shalewater Solutions' specialty in water management, flowback and produced water recycling, and logistics technology.

Accordingly, the joint venture combines Pinnergy's large geographic footprint and asset base with the water management and reclamation expertise of Shalewater Solutions. The Company will combine over 1,000 employees between the two organizations.

PinnergyShalewater will be one of the largest providers of a complete water and fluid management solution under a single point of contact. Oil and gas producers will benefit from an increase in efficiencies and cost savings through the use of the total water management service offering.


Oil and gas industry to spend over $10B for valves in 2015, finds study

According to the study Industrial Valves: World Markets, published by The McIlvaine Company, the upstream oil and gas industry will spend for the first time more than $10 billion for valves in a single year.

In 2015, the expenditure is predicted to be $10.3 billion, which includes valves purchased for oil and gas extraction. Further, it includes those used in unconventional extraction such as from subsea shale and oil sands. The forecast also includes valves used in LNG and gas-to-liquids plants. The shale gas boom is resulting in LNG and gas-to-liquid plant construction, and large numbers of valves are required to operate these plants.

The Middle East remains the historic leader, but NAFTA will be a close second. The U.S. shale gas and oil expansion and the Canadian tar sands investments are providing substantial valve markets; these forecasts do not include refineries. However, the lower-quality crudes being extracted in NAFTA are spurring investments in refinery valves due to upgrades.

A larger percentage of the valve spend is now directed at control of water and wastewater. Hydraulic fracturing requires extensive valving -- up to 30 chemicals along with sand are mixed with water prior to injection. Likewise, the flowback water in many states cannot be discharged into underground storage because it is too contaminated to be treated by conventional sewage treatment plants. The result is a significant treatment investment.


Singapore International Water Week 2014 highlights industrial water solutions

Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) 2014 was held June 1-5 at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, and brought together thousands of attendees and industry leaders who have a collective interest in discovering innovative solutions to the world's water challenges.

Held in conjunction with the fourth World Cities Summit and the second CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, the sixth edition of SIWW focused on industrial water solutions as well as talent development and the commercialization of innovative water technologies and solutions.

With regard to the industrial water sector -- which ranks second in global water consumption, accounting for about 25 percent of global water demand -- SIWW 2014 continued to focus on the need for thought leadership and the sharing of best practices in industrial water solutions through platforms such as the Industrial Water Solutions Forum.

Besides looking at issues such as efficient water use in the manufacturing sector to help companies achieve productivity and savings, the forum also paired industrial water users with water technology companies, startups and academics.

SIWW 2014 featured expanded discussions on industrial water solutions that cut across different levels -- thought leadership, technical and business solutions. There was also more focused and dedicated discussion tracks, spanning financial, chemical and refinery, electronics, pharmaceutical, mining, food and beverage, oil and gas, and industrial parks sectors. These discussions took place at various events including the Water Convention, Hot Issues Workshop, TechXchange, and the booths of exhibiting companies at the Water Expo.

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