CATEGORIZED | Drilling It Safely, News

Proposed study aims to analyze environmental impact of onshore drilling

Posted on 29 November 2012

By Joanne Liou, editorial coordinator

A proposed study wants to look at the environmental impact of drilling, especially in shale developments, to determine how resource development can occur without negative impacts.

To illustrate how, and ultimately if, oil and gas extraction onshore can occur without impacting the environment, a proposed study by National Oilwell Varco (NOV) and Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems Program (EFD) is aiming to address current drilling and completion practices that impact the environment, practices that have been developed to protect the environment and what more can be done. A comprehensive questionnaire and workshops would be used to compile a report that also addresses regulations, best practices, public perceptions, environmental concerns that impact drilling and regional reviews.

“Our industry is in the news a fair amount, and we may not want to be because it’s fairly negative press,” Natalie Wagner, cross divisional environmental solutions, NOV, said at the Drilling Engineering Association (DEA) technology forum earlier this month. “What we’re looking at is what is the impact that we’re having on the environment. What are we doing now that actually is a good thing, and what can we do better?”

The proposed study would produce a gap analysis based on results from questionnaires of current drilling and completion systems onshore and how to enable drilling with the least amount of environmental impact. The analysis would identify what areas require additional research investment, as well as areas of market opportunities.

The range of disciplines involved in the development of resources, specifically in unconventional shales, share a common thread in impacting the environment, Ms Wagner explained. “The hope is to take the environmental impact out of the picture. The question that begs to be asked is: Can we develop these resources with no environmental impact?” The study would determine what needs to change among the different disciplines in the drilling and completion process, service providers and fluids, road transport, and HSE and would also consider regulations and regional differences.

Ms Wagner and Thomas Williams, senior advisor of EFD, presented the proposal to the DEA and are seeking sponsors and participants. Given the broad scope of the project, the study would require subject-matter experts to work in collaboration with experts from EFD sponsors, HSE experts, the project team and advisers, which collectively would maximize the value of conducting the study, as well as provide credibility.

The plan for the proposed study is to form a project team and budget in Q1 2013, followed by a questionnaire and workshop in Q2. A final report for sponsors and the public would be made available by Q4 2013.

For more information or to become a sponsor of the proposal, please contact Mr Williams at twilliams@afsolutionsinc.com or +1-713-201-3866. Ms Wagner is available at natalie.wagner@nov.com or +1-713-375-3914.

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