DeBeque (Kobe) pipeline project will supply oil and gas operations and irrigators #ColoradoRiver

October 31, 2014


From The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel (Dennis Webb):

A water project that had its beginnings three decades back in connection with possible oil shale development has been revived and repurposed for another kind of energy production involving shale rock.

The pipeline project in the De Beque area also will provide additional benefits including serving up irrigation water to meet the region’s needs and reducing truck traffic related to getting water to and from energy development operations.

The $8 million project is being paid for by Black Hills Exploration & Production and is part of a large infrastructure project that will aid in the company’s efforts to use horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to produce from the Mancos shale formation. But the water intake facility on the Colorado River and a short portion of a 24-inch-diameter water pipeline now being extended date back to the 1980s.

Getty Oil built the intake for an oil shale project that never came to fruition, said Dave Merritt, a board member of the Colorado River Water Conservation District, which leased the water rights to Getty. The river district continues to hold those rights today.

“It shows the importance of holding on to water rights,” said Merritt, who has been involved with the project since 1985, having had a longtime career for the river district as an engineer.

“It wasn’t until a few years ago that we were able to come up with an agreement to fully implement this project,” he said.

The 1980s saw an end to the region’s last oil shale boom, as companies couldn’t economically mine and heat the vast reserves of kerogen in northwest Colorado’s Green River shale formation to produce oil.

Instead, energy developers largely turned their attention locally to using hydraulic fracturing to produce gas from wells drilled into the Williams Fork sandstone. And now Black Hills and other companies are using fracking and horizontal drilling to explore and produce gas and liquids from the deeper Mancos and Niobrara shales, just as companies have pursued projects to drill and frack in shale across the country.

The De Beque pipeline project, also known as the Kobe project, will help supply the water Black Hills needs for its Mancos fracking via the 24-inch pipeline that will feed water pumped from the Colorado River to eight, 500-barrel tanks at a terminal northwest of De Beque. But only about 5 cubic feet per second of water will go for industrial uses. Fifteen cfs will be used for irrigation, including by the town of De Beque, which will be able to access it via a ditch.

The town has water rights that are senior to a number of ranchers in the area, so providing more water to the town should reduce the need for calls on water that otherwise would go to others.

“This last summer I was pretty well cut off for most of the time,” said Marty Holt, a rancher up Roan Creek.

Holt serves on the board of the Bluestone Water Conservancy District, which is working jointly with the river district on a project that is getting done at no cost to taxpayers due to Black Hills’ involvement.

“Water for energy development is extremely valuable,” Merritt explained. “They’re much more willing to pay for it.”

The larger infrastructure project also involves installation of a 12-inch-diameter gas pipeline that uses the same corridor as the water pipeline and extends farther west to places Black Hills is drilling. In addition, Black Hills will be repurposing an 8-inch-diameter gas pipeline in the corridor for use in transporting produced water from drilling operations. The company will be operating a facility that will let it recycle water from wells and use it to fracture other wells.

That facility will be operated adjacent to a recently constructed Summit Midstream gas processing plant that is supporting drilling in the area and is capable of handling 20 million cubic feet of gas a day. It’s a cryogenic plant that cools the gas to allow liquids to be stripped from it and sold separately. The new 12-inch gas line will tie into that plant.

In a brief statement Black Hills issued in a request for comment on the project, it said work on the pipeline infrastructure began in late July and is expected to be completed by year’s end. It also pointed to various approvals it had to obtain, including from the Bureau of Land Management and Mesa and Garfield counties. The pipeline corridor also crosses private property, much of it owned by Chevron.

The $8 million part of the project pertains only to work associated with installing and putting into operation the plastic water line that also will meet irrigation needs. While the overall project cost hasn’t been made public, it has involved as many as 300 workers during peak periods, said Brock Degeyter, general counsel for Summit Midstream, which is the project’s general contractor.

Due to rugged terrain and the challenges of locating multiple pipelines in a single, narrow right of way, crews have used horizontal boring rather than open trenches to install many pipeline segments. Ray Tenney, deputy chief engineer for the river district, said as many as nine boring crews have been on site, and pipes haves been pulled through bores as long as 1,180 feet.

Degeyter said such techniques aren’t unusual in mountainous areas.

But he added, “We do think it’s a great example of really state-of-the-art construction techniques, for sure.”

He called the project “a coordinated effort.”

“A couple different parties are getting some significant things done that will ultimately help, I think, consumers — consumers of water, gas, etc. — all at the same time, which is obviously a good, efficient use of resources,” Degeyter said.

“I think it is going to wind up being a very successful and efficient project for us,” he said.

The project also could serve other energy companies besides Black Hills, and it is being hailed as a means of reducing truck traffic through the De Beque area, partly through the movement of water via pipeline to the terminal northwest of town. The tanks at the terminal could provide contract deliveries for trucks serving energy development.

Black Hills’ use of the new produced water line also will cut down on traffic. Mesa County Commissioner John Justman, who also serves on the river district board, notes that reducing truck traffic was a big selling point when Black Hills’ water recycling plant went through Mesa County’s permitting process.

He added that in a time of drought, “recycling the water and reusing it is another big deal.”


A satellite finds a potent hot spot of global-warming methane over Colorado’s Four Corners

October 10, 2014


Roan Plateau: Settlement on the horizon?

October 8, 2014


Water For Energy: Challenges to Produced Water Reuse

October 4, 2014

Originally posted on Your Water Colorado Blog:

HW 32 coversmallThe water required for oil and gas production is a hot topic in Colorado, and nationwide. We took a close look at it last fall in The Energy Issue of Headwaters magazine, exploring Colorado’s energy mix, oil and gas drilling, and the water market for power and energy. And although, compared to state-wide water usage, water for oil and gas only accounts for a small amount (as of 2011, the Division of Water Resources estimated that .47 percent of the state’s water withdrawals went to thermoelectric power generation; .03 percent to coal, natural gas, uranium and solar development; and .04 percent to hydraulic fracturing), in our water-limited state, where the energy industry could continue growing, players are competing for the same water. Reusing water and produced water is improving every year, and could make the water demands of the oil and gas industry less of a concern.  From Caitlin…

View original 263 more words


Testing the water: New CSU system monitors water quality at oil and gas sites in real time

September 24, 2014

Here’s the release:

A steady stream of data collected at oil and natural gas sites in the Denver-Julesburg Basin flows into a server at CSU, where researchers use it to analyze groundwater quality.

Complex algorithms sift through the raw data, scanning for any anomalies or sudden shifts in water composition that could indicate contamination in a groundwater well. The data is analyzed and displayed as charts and graphs on a CSU website for the public to view, updated with new field data posted every hour.

The network of monitoring stations and website are part of the Colorado Water Watch, a project spearheaded by CSU researchers to provide the public with real-time information about water quality at oil and gas sites throughout the basin that underlies northeastern Colorado and the Nebraska Panhandle.

The CSU team is led by Ken Carlson, a professor of civil and environmental engineering, who believes it is the first monitoring system of its kind in the country.

“We don’t know of anyone else in the country who is collecting real-time data from groundwater wells next to oil and gas operations, evaluating potential changes with advanced anomaly detection algorithms and sharing it with the public,” Carlson said.

Water and energy

Carlson specializes in water quality research and over the years has narrowed his focus to the impacts of energy development on water. He leads the Center for Energy Water Sustainability, part of the Energy Institute at CSU.

In recent years, most of his work has centered on water and hydraulic fracturing.

Hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” is the practice of drilling deep wells – 6,000 to Colorado Water Watch infographic8,000 feet in the Denver-Julesburg Basin – into a layer of rock that contains oil and methane gas. A mixture of chemicals and water is injected to break up the rock and release the oil and gas that is then extracted.

Critics believe fracking is unsafe and, among other things, pollutes critical groundwater supplies.

Proponents defend the practice, saying there is no evidence hydraulic fracturing is releasing pollutants into groundwater supplies.

The topic has become increasingly controversial in Colorado and the nation.

“It’s gotten to the point people cannot have a civil conversation about it,” said Carlson. “Everyone produces studies that back up their beliefs. This could lead to confusion and some people may feel they do not have enough information to make informed decisions.”

Enter Colorado Water Watch, a real-time monitoring system to provide the public with easy-to-understand water quality information.

Gathering support

Carlson approached former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, who directs CSU’s Center for the New Energy Economy, about creating Colorado Water Watch during the 2012 Natural Gas Symposium.

Ritter liked the idea and from there, the two met with representatives from Noble Energy and the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, which oversees oil and gas issues in the state.

Both Noble and the state agency agreed to support the project and serve on the steering committee along with representatives from Western Resources Advocates, a conservation group; the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission; and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association industry group.

“One thing that makes this project unique is that we involved a variety of stakeholders in the project,” Ritter said. “We have approached this with a spirit of collaboration, and that has been highly beneficial to the project.”

Science Senator. It's called science.

Science Senator. It’s called science.

Based on science

Carlson and his research team have spent the bulk of the past 18 months developing the monitoring system using off-the-shelf sensors, identifying Noble-owned or -leased sites to install their equipment, and designing algorithms to crunch data coming in from the field.

The team has published several papers related to their work in peer-reviewed journals including Environmental Science and Technology and Journal of Applied Water Science.

“We wanted this to be based on sound, proven science,” Carlson said. “We’ve spent a lot of time working on that and validating the system and our results.”

Sensors and stations

So far, the CSU team, which includes Asma Hanif, research associate, and Jihee Son, a post-doctoral student, has installed four monitoring stations as part of the proof-of-concept phase of the project.

Three are located next to active oil and gas wells throughout the Denver-Julesburg Basin. The fourth is a control site at CSU’s Agricultural Research Development and Education Center – or ARDEC – near Wellington.

Each site has a sensor running down a well that collects water data and is connected via cable to a nearby data logger.

The sensors are placed at varying depths to collect information on various water sources. Some snake 40 feet down and monitor primarily groundwater that is vulnerable to spills or other surface activity. Others, such as the Galeton station, are placed 400 feet below ground to collect data on the Laramie-Fox Hills Aquifer, a confined aquifer that could be susceptible to leaks in oil and gas well casing.

Water flows around the sensors, which send information to the data logger every five seconds. That information is then relayed to CSU’s server via a wireless connection.

The system is designed to not only monitor water quality but also act as an early detection system. If it detects an anomaly or major change, Carlson and his team are immediately alerted.

They visit the site, take a water sample and send it to an Environmental Protection Agency-certified lab to be analyzed. With that information, they can identify the source of the contamination – even if it isn’t from oil and gas development.

“The system can detect changes in quality that could be due to any activity in the watershed including oil and gas operations, agriculture, other industrial activity and even urban runoff, Carlson said.

Providing more information

Until now, most of the publicly available water quality data has come from samples taken periodically by operators or regulators.

In Colorado, for example, water samples are collected at a proposed site before a well is drilled, a month after it is in operation, and then five years later. That information is available to the public upon request but is highly technical and can be hard for people to understand.

Information provided by the Colorado Water Watch project will help fill that gap, said Mike King, executive director of the Department of Natural Resources.

“There’s a tremendous amount of suspicion about government and about oil and gas development, and we thought that bringing CSU on and participating would provide that level of objectivity that many in the public felt was lacking,” King said.

Jon Golden-Dubois, executive director of Western Resources Advocates, supports Colorado Water Watch for similar reasons.

“Our interest is ensuring that more information is available and that a larger set of data is developed so that we can better understand the impacts of oil and gas development and fracking on water quality in Colorado,” he said.

The $1.2 million project has been extended beyond the proof-of-concept phase and additional monitoring wells will be installed this fall.

Carlson also would like to add an air quality component.

“If stakeholders – primarily the public and industry – find Colorado Water Watch valuable, the system could be extended for much of the oil and gas areas in the state and maybe beyond,” he said.

From KUNC (Grace Hood):

Homeowners and landowners have long expressed concerns about how the fracking process impacts water quality. Colorado regulations require water testing with a half mile of where a well is drilled. The samples are taken before and after the activity.

But what happens if water quality changes over time?

That question is what researchers at Colorado State University have been pondering. Their demonstration project, a partnership between CSU and Noble Energy, installed monitors at four sites in the Denver-Julesberg Basin near Greeley. In 2013, they began wirelessly transmitting data from the wells to researchers who are watching for changes.

Now CSU Engineering Associate Professor Ken Carlson said the data will be available for the public to review and monitor at Colorado Water Watch. It’s a step toward greater transparency, and believed to be the first of it kind when it comes to monitoring water quality near oil and gas sites.

“This isn’t an industry effort, this isn’t an environmental-group effort, we wanted it to be balanced, and we want the public to feel like they’re getting information that wasn’t filtered by either side,” Carlson said.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.


Colorado task force takes 1st step in dealing with drilling conflicts — The Denver Post

September 24, 2014
Directional drilling from one well site via the National Science Foundation

Directional drilling from one well site via the National Science Foundation

From The Denver Post (Mark Jaffe):

The task force handpicked by Gov. John Hickenlooper to defuse the clash between residential communities and oil and gas drillers is set to hold its first meeting Thursday in Denver. The charge for the 21-member panel, which includes two chairpeople, is to develop recommendations on balancing state and local control of oil and gas drilling that can be turned into legislation.

Contending that wells are getting too close to homes, some Front Range municipalities have adopted local ordinances or bans and moratoriums on drilling. The state has sued the communities, saying only it can regulate drilling and has won district court judgments against Fort Collins, Longmont and Lafayette.

“The people who are at the table are really looking for compromise,” said task force member Will Toor, a former Boulder mayor and Boulder County commissioner.

The panel will have six months to work, and any recommendation will need to pass by a two-thirds vote.

At Thursday’s meeting, the group is expected to review existing state and local controls on drilling and have an initial discussion about the key issues. There will be a period for public comment from 4 to 6 p.m. at Colorado Parks and Wildlife offices at 6060 Broadway.

The panel was convened as part of a compromise brokered by the governor that removed four oil-and-gas-related initiatives from the November ballot. Two were backed by industry, and two that focused on bolstering local control and kept drilling rigs away from homes were supported by U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, D-Boulder.

On Sept. 9, Hickenlooper issued an executive order outlining the issues the panel needs to address such as air quality and the siting of wells near homes and in floodplains.

“The question is: What will the task force focus on?” said Stan Dempsey, president of the Colorado Petroleum Association, a trade group. Dempsey is not a task force member.

The task force is being chaired by La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt and Randy Cleveland, president of XTO Energy Inc., a subsidiary of ExxonMobil. The task force includes six members representing economic interests. Of those, four are oil and gas industry executives and one each are from the homebuilding and agriculture sectors. There are six task force members representing conservation and homeowner groups, as well as local officials. Hickenlooper also chose seven civic leaders who do not have a direct interest in the issue, including retired Colorado Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Kourlis.

“I hope we can inform legislation,” said Sara Barwinski, a member of the task force and the grassroots group Weld Air and Water.

“If all the parties respectfully listen and put their cards on the table and realize this has to be addressed,” she said. “I am full of hope we can come up with a concrete recommendation.”

More oil and gas coverage here.


The mistaken conflation of fracking with oil and gas operations — Jonathan P. Thompson

September 22, 2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,057 other followers

%d bloggers like this: