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Amanda Brock will deliver opening remarks at the Sustainable Water Management in the Texas Oil and Gas Industry event at the Atlantic Council Headquarters in Washington D.C. on July 29, 2014. The focus will be on the use of water by the Texas oil and gas industry and critically examining the solutions at hand in Texas.

The event starts with a keynote presentation by David Porter, Commissioner of the Texas Railroad Commission and features a panel of experts from the Texas oil, gas, and water treatment industries.

Learn more about the Atlantic Council and this important issue by visiting www.atlanticcouncil.org

REGULATORY CONFUSION REIGNS… BUT THAT MAY BE GOOD FOR THE WATER INDUSTRY.

One thing is clear, environmental regulations have not kept up with the explosive growth of the US onshore energy industry. The regulatory process is moving at a glacial pace and is playing catch up to an industry where speed and efficiency invariably translates to success. Notwithstanding the absence of clear regulatory guidelines,   oil and gas operators concerned with increased stress on surface and ground water supplies, continue to evaluate alternatives to better manage water throughout the hydrocarbon production lifecycle. That means opportunities for water treatment and technology companies. However, the challenge remains where and how water companies can build a sustainable long term businesses in this sector? The recent actions of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may provide some insights.

But, first a little history is needed here.  Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney, who had previously headed the giant oil field service company Halliburton, is viewed as leading the charge under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to exclude Hydraulic Fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act except where diesel fuels are concerned. The US Congress at the time also gave the oil and gas industry other exemptions from environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act (CWA). These exemptions are sometimes referred to as the “Halliburton loopholes”.  Whether justified or not, and although timing and impact is uncertain, there is momentum to find ways to eliminate or undermine these existing loopholes and the EPA is central to this effort.

While the EPA continues to delay its much anticipated report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, it recently issued a series of reports and proposed rules relating to water use and the discharge of wastewater in energy production. These regulations and proposals, while designed to eliminate uncertainty, further muddy the waters.

The EPA, for example, has now released proposed rules to clarify what US waters are covered by the CWA.   One of the main goals of the revisions is to identify water bodies which have a significant “nexus” to waters currently covered by the CWA and to then evaluate these “other waters” on a case by case basis.  The inherent uncertainty of what new waters are now covered   which will require use permits, have many accusing the EPA of dramatically expanding federal authority over state and private water rights. These rules, if promulgated, will have a definite impact on how energy companies will source surface water and site their production facilities.

The EPA has also released 2 reports on waste generated by oil and gas production and concludes that the federal government should encourage the development of additional and improved “best practices”. Produced water is the largest oil and gas production waste stream with over 21 Billion Barrels generated annually in the US. However,    waste from oil and gas operations falls under one of the loopholes and is currently largely exempt from federal waste regulations. This will change at some point and any changes will directly impact the use, treatment and disposal of produced water.

So what does this all mean for oil and gas operators that are keenly aware of their water usage, the need to be self-sustaining and that they are subject to greater environmental scrutiny than other water users?  The emphasis has to be improved self-sufficiency,  while efficiently managing the water life cycle  using  primarily either brackish water for as long as it is not further regulated, or produced water which operators  already own and do not have to compete for.  The opportunity then for water companies will be in developing solutions for sourcing, managing, treating, recycling and minimizing the disposal of the huge volumes of brackish and produced water needed as cost effectively as possible.

The EPA’s website identifies all of its areas of concern such as the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, ensuring the safe disposal of related wastes, underground injection of waste disposal fluids, and use of surface ponds. As it relates to recycling, the EPA concludes that recycling has “the potential to reduce discharges…minimize underground injection of wastewater and conserve water resources”. That’s about as certain as the EPA is going to get right now, but provides guidance the water industry should consider.

Global Water Intelligence held its Global Water Summit on April 7th – 8th in Paris, France.  The theme of the 2014 Summit was “Water for Growth” which acknowledged water’s fundamental role in economic recovery and the opportunities for business development. Despite the increased use of water in the oil and gas industry, water is often overlooked in corporate strategies and in national planning. The discussions focused on how leadership and international cooperation can play a vital part in securing economic and social stability.
Water Standard’s Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Brock, served as the Summit’s Closing Plenary Session Chair, joined by a distinguished group of industry leaders and policy makers to discuss the value of water as one of the key global issues. The session focused on the Future of Water, discussing the global economy’s need for continuous growth.
The panel speakers included:
Karlene Maywald, National Water Commission Chair of Australia
Maureen Stapleton, the General Manager of San Diego County Water Authority
Jean-Michel Herrewyn, Executive Vice President at Veolia Global Enterprises
Professor Srinivas Chary, Dean of Research and Management in Staff College of India (ASCI)
Todd Gleason, Senior Vice President at Pentair Inc.
Ida Auken, Member of Parliament (RV) in Denmark.

Water Standard’s Chief Technology Officer, Lisa Henthorne, has been elected to serve as a board member to the Produced Water Society (PWS).  The Produced Water Society is a collection of engineers and industry professionals with the goal to study and improve the separation, treatment, and analysis of Offshore and Onshore Produced Water to meet the discharge and reinjection requirements of the industry and environment.
Lisa will continue her work evaluating the feasibility of new technologies in produced water for the oil and gas industry. Lisa joins current Board members James Robinson, Chevron; Daniel Gallo, Shell; John Walsh, Cetco; and Tom Pankratz, Global Water Intelligence.
Ms. Henthorne served as former President of the International Desalination Association (IDA) from 2007-2009, where she has been a member of the Board of Directors for the past fourteen years and is recognized as a leading expert in water treatment worldwide. She formerly headed the desalination business for CH2M Hill and has been a technical advisor on many challenging desalination projects in the Middle East, Australia, North America, and Asia. Ms. Henthorne also holds three U.S. patents in water treatment, with multiple US and international patents pending.
For more information on PWS, please visit www.producedwatersociety.com

Water Standard has announced that its Chief Executive Officer, Amanda Brock, has accepted a position on the Advisory Board of the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies. HRI for Gulf of Mexico Studies is the only marine research institute dedicated solely to advancing the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the world’s ninth-largest body of water. Through its innovative “Harte Model” HRI integrates outstanding scientific research with public policy to provide international leadership in generating and disseminating knowledge about the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and its critical role in the economies of the North American region.

For more information on HRI, please visit www.harteresearchinstitute.org

 

 

Water Standard has been awarded the ISO 9001 for excellence in quality management for the engineering design, procurement, operation and project management of water treatment and enhanced oil recovery facilities and systems. ...Read More

Read Amanda Brock’s October 2013 Column for Global Water Intelligence entitled “Looking Beyond the Hype”

Jim Wodehouse and Holly Johnson met with members of the United Kingdom’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), Oil & Gas UK, the Norwegian Petroleum Directorate (NPD), and representatives of seven major and independent oil and gas and engineering companies to explore offshore facilities solutions for implementing EOR in the North Sea.  The workshop was held in Aberdeen, Scotland on May 21, 2013.