Tags
Environmental

Fuelling the search for a more environmentally friendly search for fuel

UAlberta scientist and collaborators receive more than $2M to fuel search to inform best practices for hydraulic fracturing in Alberta

Dan Alessi, Encana Water Chair and assistant professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, examines flowback water as part of a $2M study to examine best practices in hydraulic fracturing.
Dan Alessi, Encana Water Chair and assistant professor in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, examines flowback water as part of a $2M study to examine best practices in hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing has become a widely used resource extraction technology in today’s world. Designed to increase the access to our petroleum reserves, this method has come under scrutiny in the recent past for its potential impact on the environment.

A University of Alberta scientist and his collaborators have received more than $2 million in research funding to fuel their search to inform best practices for hydraulic fracturing in Alberta. The research program is led by Daniel Alessi, assistant professor in the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences and Encana Chair in Water Resources, who joined the U of A in 2013, and aims to improve the water cycle in unconventional energy recovery.

Reducing freshwater use in hydraulic fracturing

“One of the things that people often worry about with hydraulic fracturing, unlike most other industrial processes, is that in many cases you’re taking water from the surface and permanently removing it from the water cycle,” says Alessi. “New strategies to reduce fresh water use, including treatment options, are needed from both an environmental impact and cost perspective.”

The study aims to begin unravelling the chemistry and potential toxicity for flowback and produced water, to uncover sources of microbial biofouling in the water cycle of hydraulic fracturing operations, and to develop tools such as groundwater models to aid in the use of alternative water sources.

“Ultimately, we want to improve the water cycle and mitigate water use and the potential environmental impacts.” —Dan Alessi

“The largest part of the project is to look at the chemistry, microbiology and toxicity of flowback waters,” says Alessi, noting that during the process, a significant fraction of the fresh water that is pumped into the ground—treated in advance with chemicals to increase the performance of the well—flows back out of the well after it interacts with the rock formation. “Often in Alberta, the water becomes super-saline, sometimes five to 10 times as salty as ocean water. The proper handling, treatment and disposal of this flowback water is an area that merits further investigation.”

To examine the potential environmental impacts of surface spills and uncover new methods for flowback treatment and reuse, he is collaborating closely with U of A colleagues Greg Goss (biological sciences) and Jonathan Martin (laboratory medicine and pathology), experts in aquatic toxicology and analytical organic chemistry, respectively.

“Our research program is extremely mechanistic. We want to know if this water is potentially toxic. If it is, we want to understand the fundamental reasons behind its toxicity and what the impacts to ecosystems might be if it is spilled at the surface.”

Understanding potential hydraulic fracturing impacts

The primary goal of this research is to further understanding of the full spectrum of potential impacts associated with fracturing. Additional benefits of the five-year study will be to reduce fresh water use in hydraulic fracturing and share best practices with industry through scientific publications and public forums.

“There are two ends of the spectrum—people who think hydraulic fracturing should never happen and those who think fracturing operations come without environmental consequences,” says Alessi. “My view is more pragmatic. At least in the foreseeable future, hydraulic fracturing is going to happen. While it is happening, let us work to address some of these potential concerns. Ultimately, we want to improve the water cycle and mitigate water use and the potential environmental impacts. I hope the information we produce is useful to policy-makers, the public and our industrial partners.”

“Encana is pleased to support science-based independent research through Canada’s academic institutions. It is through partnerships, such as the UAlberta Chair in Water Resources, that we progress the responsible development of Canada’s abundant oil and gas resources,” says Richard Dunn, vice-president of government relations with Encana.

The study, “Informing best practices for hydraulic fracturing in Alberta: Water sources and characterizing the toxicity of produced fracturing fluids,” was approved for a nearly $1-million collaborative research and development grant through the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada. Industry partner Encana also contributed more than $1 million to the study over the next five years.

Company Info

Related News

Improve metal machining productivity with new long-life cutting fluid

 Coolcut S-50 soluble cutting fluid.

New Coolcut S-50 soluble cutting fluid from Walter Surface Technologies will improve the life of cutting tools and reduce heat buildup and friction on work pieces, even in tougher applications and on hard-to-machine metals. “Special EP additives in the liquid will provide extra lubricity in order to cut materials such as high tensile steel and stainless steel, and titanium, as well as other metals like aluminium and copper alloys,” says Olga Ivanysenko, Associate Product Manager, Environmental Solutions, at Walter Surface Technologies. “The fluid forms a very stable emulsion and will increase feed, cutting speed and production, so manufacturing shops can perform more cuts, faster, all while ensuring better tool life and smooth operation, without having to change liquid.”

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Oil and fuel filtration systems added to the Wajax portfolio

10 GPM Nema 4 High Vacuum Transformer Oil Purification System.

Wajax has announced the addition of Oil Filtration Systems, Inc. to its filtration portfolio. Oil Filtration Systems manufactures a comprehensive line of oil purification equipment that is designed to remove contamination (water, particulate, varnish, etc.) from a variety of fluids, including lube oil, hydraulic oil, transformer oil and diesel fuel. Oil Filtration Systems, like Wajax, serves a variety of markets, including power generation, mining, oil and gas, pulp and paper, and other industries.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Ceramic membrane filtration of produced water for oil and gas operations

Figure 1.

Whether it is for disposal or reuse, produced water treatment has become a major focus in both the water and the oil and gas industries during the past decade. Ceramic membranes, which were developed more than 30 years ago, are becoming an important technology for produced water treatment. In fact, it is becoming evident that these membranes offer some of the best values in the emerging areas of water management for the upstream oil and gas industry, as well as in refineries.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Leak detection on produced water pipeline networks

Water is considered a byproduct of oil and gas production and must be carefully managed. This water is usually referred to as ‘produced water’ and is the largest volume waste stream associated with oil and gas production. Because produced water was viewed as a waste by product historically, the most commonly practiced management strategies were aimed at disposal, rather than beneficial use.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Low-density floating roof reduces tank vent emissions

Covers originally designed for water uses are beneficial for heavy oil tanks.

Concerns over emissions in various operational areas have many oil and gas companies looking for methods to control emissions across the board. One area that has been explored in some sectors is that of covers for tanks and similar uses. One technology, first developed in Denmark for water and wastewater applications, is proving to be significant for Canadian heavy oil producers. The Oil & Gas Duty Hexa-Cover floating cover system offers users improved environmental performance and reduced capital and operating costs.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Advanced filtration system increases use of recycled water

Tequatic Plus filters as installed by BNN Energy.

An oilfield water service provider is helping a Colorado oilfield operator cut water sourcing and hauling costs for hydraulic fracturing by integrating self cleaning Tequatic Plus F-75 Filters into a water treatment plant, more than tripling the use of recycled produced water for its customer to nearly 100 percent.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Hydraulic Fracturing set to Reduce Greenhouse Gases Using Waterless Solution

Millennium Stimulation Services is introducing a patented process of using Energized Natural Gas (ENG) as a fluid solution for hydraulic fracturing. This process allows a virtually complete replacement of water volumes while eliminating the need to vent gas or flare gas emissions into the atmosphere. E & P companies also stand to benefit from improved finding and development costs.

Read More

Tags
Industry News
Environmental

Economic and Environmental Concerns Will Be Answered Through Energy East Process: TransCanada

Energy East will create 4,200 jobs in Ontario during its development and construction.

While an Ontario Energy Board report on the proposed Energy East pipeline suggests it may not provide significant benefits to that province compared to its risks, the company behind the proposal remains emphatic that expansion of oil transmission through Ontario to the east coast is an important effort.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Raven Industries’ Engineered Films Division Launches New Geomembrane Product Line

Raven Industries’ Engineered Films Division, an innovative manufacturer of specialty plastic film and sheeting, has announced the launch of a new flexible geomembrane product line designed to provide effective containment solutions for the energy and environmental sectors. HydraFlex Containment Solutions is the newest addition to the Raven product line and includes several targeted geomembranes designed for specific project attributes. All HydraFlex products are available in master rolls or large prefabricated one-piece panels, manufactured in a factory-controlled environment up to 8,000 lbs per panel with a wide sealing-window for ease of field installation.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Asphalt aids in carbon capture

The best material to keep carbon dioxide from natural gas wells from fouling the atmosphere may be a derivative of asphalt, according to Rice University scientists. The Rice laboratory of chemist James Tour followed up on last year’s discovery of a “green” carbon capture material for wellhead sequestration with the news that an even better compound could be made cheaply in a few steps from asphalt, the black, petroleum-based substance primarily used to build roads.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Emergency Response To Major Oil Spill Saves City’s Water Supply

Last year disaster struck the Canadian city of Lac-Mégantic when a train carrying light crude oil derailed in the town centre. The resulting explosion and fire destroyed 40 buildings and killed 47 people. As thousands of gallons of petroleum spilled into the Chaudière River, Xylem was called in to arrange an emergency bypass for an alternative drinking water source.

Read More

Tags
Environmental

Helping The Environment Can Also Be Good For Profits

A growing appreciation for the environment is having a major impact on the oil and gas industry. While finding and extracting oil and gas from the ground remains paramount, companies – in some cases prodded by environmental groups and government agencies – are increasingly focusing on reducing their carbon footprint.

Read More