Category: Oil and gas industry

EPA approved toxic chemicals for fracking a decade ago, new files show

Read the full story in the New York Times.

The compounds can form PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals,” which have been linked to cancer and birth defects. The E.P.A. approvals came despite the agency’s own concerns about toxicity.

Reporter’s Toolbox: Drilling for data on offshore wells

Read the full story from the Society for Environmental Journalists.

The decades-old controversy that has raged over offshore drilling flared anew recently as a federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s temporary halt to new leases on federal land (including those on the outer continental shelf).

So to help cover the ongoing debate, it may be useful to know about the database of information on offshore wells from the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

While not all data about leasing and drilling on federal lands is available or easily accessible — this much is. And it can show some meaningful patterns and tell some meaningful stories.

New tool factors effects of fossil-fuel emissions on ocean research

Read the full story from the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

A newly developed tool will allow scientists to better gauge how centuries of fossil fuel emissions could be skewing the data they collect from marine environments.

New tool offers investors ability to directly compare emissions from 300 US oil & gas companies

Read the full story at Environment + Energy Leader.

A new analysis from Ceres and the Clean Air Task Force allows investors to directly compare emissions intensity and total reported emissions for US oil and gas producers. The analysis used publicly available data to develop comparable metrics that highlight the GHG performance of nearly 300 onshore oil and gas producers in the US.

Restoring land around abandoned oil and gas wells would free up millions of acres of forests, farmlands, and grasslands

A drilling pad for oil and gas in Robinson Township, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images

by Matthew D. Moran (Hendrix College)

CC BY-ND

President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan proposes to spend US$16 billion plugging old oil and gas wells and cleaning up abandoned mines. But there’s no authoritative measure of how many of these sites exist across the nation.

In a recent study, my colleagues and I sought to account for every oil and gas well site in the lower 48 states that was eligible for restoration – meaning that the well no longer was producing oil or gas, and there were no other active wells using that site. We found more than 430,000 old well sites, with associated infrastructure such as access roads, storage areas and fluid tanks. They covered more than 2 million acres – an area larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

These sites are scattered across the country, concentrated mainly in forests, grassland and cropland. They could be put to good use. We estimated the value of crops that could be produced if these lands are restored at over $14 billion over the next 50 years.

We calculated that restoring these lands could remove millions of tons of carbon from the atmosphere as vegetation regrows on them, providing an estimated $7 billion in benefits from reduced greenhouse gas emissions. It also would provide habitat for wildlife and could produce timber for harvesting. And because healthy ecosystems filter air and water, returning these lands to a natural state could reduce air pollution and improve drinking water quality.

Retired oil and gas executive Curtis Shuck explains why his nonprofit is working to plug thousands of orphaned wells across the U.S.

In recent years, energy production has become the largest consumer of new land in the U.S., outpacing urban and residential development. The oil and gas industry has a particularly large footprint, occupying millions of acres, with big impacts on the environment. Energy development reduces biodiversity, increases carbon emissions, disrupts natural ecological processes and decreases ecosystem services – the numerous benefits that natural landscapes perform for humanity.

While active wells are producing oil and gas, they generate obvious economic benefits, along with direct and indirect costs. Eventually, however, all wells go dry. After that, their economic value is gone and only the costs remain.

Most states and the federal government require energy developers to plug old wells and reclaim the land, and to post bonds to help ensure that they do so. Often, however, companies either go bankrupt and abandon sites or assert that idled wells are still producing and maintain their leases indefinitely. Furthermore, the bond amounts are almost never enough to cover the complete costs of plugging wells and restoring the land.

Map of Pennsylvania with abandoned oil and gas wells marked.
Pennsylvania officials have identified thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells in the state (marked in blue) with no identifiable responsible party to complete plugging them. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection

Abandoned wells can sit idle for many years. Many leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas, or other contaminants, damaging surrounding landscapes and threatening water supplies.

Restoring these sites starts with plugging the well to remove contamination hazards. Next, companies remove all infrastructure, such as well pads and roads. They replace topsoil, plant native plants – which may need extra care to become established over several years – and restore the site’s natural drainage patterns.

Thousands more active oil and gas wells will stop producing in the coming years. Energy companies installed over 150,000 wells on 500,000 acres of land during the initial oil and gas “fracking” boom from 2004 to 2015. These wells and older ones cover millions more acres of land that may someday become rural brownfields scattered across the American landscape.

How far would $16 billion go toward remediating inactive oil and gas sites? We estimated that the land around all currently nonproducing wells in the lower 48 states could be restored for about $7 billion, with additional costs for plugging wells.

We had only a few publicly available examples of actual restoration costs to develop our estimate, and costs likely vary widely across different types of ecosystems. But we carried out a detailed assessment and found that in every scenario we studied, the economic benefits from restored lands would be much greater than the costs.

In my view, this investment would produce returns that include crop production, better human health, cleaner air and water, and a more beautiful and ecologically sound landscape.

Matthew D. Moran, Professor of Biology, Hendrix College

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Big Oil Instagram influencers are here

Read the full story at Earther.

Earther has found at least two oil and gas companies—Shell and Phillips 66—have launched campaigns with different types of Instagram influencers. Shell is the second-largest investor-owned source of historical carbon pollution on the planet. Phillips 66 doesn’t have quite that historic footprint, but a staggering 80% shareholders recently voted for the company to address its carbon emissions tied to users. Clearly both companies could use a little image boost in the public’s eyes.

TC Energy confirms termination of Keystone XL Pipeline Project

Read the full news release.

TC Energy Corporation confirmed today that after a comprehensive review of its options, and in consultation with its partner, the Government of Alberta, it has terminated the Keystone XL Pipeline Project (the Project).

Construction activities to advance the Project were suspended following the revocation of its Presidential Permit on January 20, 2021. The Company will continue to coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe termination of and exit from the Project.

Biden administration to cancel oil and gas leases in Arctic National Wildlife Refuge

Read the full story in the Washington Post.

The Interior Department will suspend several oil and gas leases in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Tuesday, according to three individuals briefed on the decision, overturning one of Donald Trump’s most significant environmental acts during his last days in office.

The move, which could spark a major legal battle, aims to unwind nearly a dozen leases in the heart of a pristine expanse in Alaska that Republicans and Democrats have fought over for four decades. The Trump administration auctioned off the right to drill in the refuge’s coastal plain — home to hundreds of thousands of migrating caribou and waterfowl as well as the Southern Beaufort Sea’s remaining polar bears —just two weeks before President Biden was inaugurated.

Several individuals briefed on the Biden administration’s decision, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it had not been formally announced yet, said Interior would halt the leases on the grounds that Trump officials rushed the Jan. 6 auction and did not follow proper procedures.

Biden’s fossil fuel moves clash with pledges on climate change

Read the full story in the New York Times.

Despite President Biden’s pledge to aggressively cut the pollution from fossil fuels that is driving climate change, his administration has quietly taken actions this month that will guarantee the drilling and burning of oil and gas for decades to come.

The clash between Mr. Biden’s pledges and some of his recent decisions illustrates the political, technical and legal difficulties of disentangling the country from the oil, gas and coal that have underpinned its economy for more than a century.

Plastics: The Last Straw for Big Oil?

Download the document.

This report provides investors an overview of the landscape of risks posed by the petrochemical sector and its planned plastic buildout, including stranded assets, climate change impacts, plastic pollution of land and oceans, the greenwashing of “circular” solutions, public health impacts, and a loss of social license to operate. Critical questions are provided in each of the risk areas to encourage productive investor engagement with companies that are lacking transparency in their disclosures. More comprehensive disclosures in the areas described will add clarity and enable better accountability in this evolving field.

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