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Last updateWed, 24 May 2017 2pm

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The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

The Future of Coal: Efficiency Over Politics?

Many changes in the power industry have ...

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

Valve World Americas Event Set for June 20-21

End users, distributors, EPC/AEC personn...

Water Hammer

Water Hammer

Water hammer is a shock wave transmitted...

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Turning the Tables on Valve Corrosion

Multiple valve manufacturers and users w...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Acquires MYNAH Technologies

Wednesday, 24 May 2017  |  Chris Guy

Emerson has completed the purchase of MYNAH Technologies, a long-time Emerson alliance partner. The addition of MYNAH will help support Emerson Automa...

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Industry Headlines

Emerson Acquires MYNAH Technologies

7 HOURS AGO

Emerson has completed the purchase of MYNAH Technologies, a long-time Emerson alliance partner. The addition of MYNAH will help support Emerson Automation Solutions and its Operational Certainty program. Terms of  the acquisition were not disclosed.

MYNAH software is currently in use at more than ...

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Roger Fix Named Chairman of Flowserve

1 DAY AGO

In its most recent annual meeting, Flowserve announced that Bill Rusnack and Lynn Elsenhans have retired as members of the board of directors. Flowserve also announced that board member Roger Fix has been elected to replace Rusnack as chairman.

"Bill and Lynn provided years of distinguished service to ...

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ExxonMobil, SABIC Agree on Proposed Petrochemical Project

1 DAY AGO

Affiliates of Exxon Mobil and SABIC (Saudi Basic Industries Corporation) signed an agreement to conduct a detailed study of the proposed Gulf Coast Growth Ventures project in Texas and begin planning for front-end engineering and design work. The agreement was signed during the Saudi-US CEO Forum in R...

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Report Shows Potential for Appalachian Petrochemical Industry

1 DAY AGO

An economic report released by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) shows that the Appalachian region could become a second center of U.S. petrochemical and plastic resin manufacturing, similar to the Gulf Coast.

ACC's report presents a hypothetical scenario that includes the development of a storage ...

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Leading Economic Indicators for the U.S. Increased in April

7 HOURS AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.3% in April to 126.9 (2010 = 100), following a 0.3% increase in March, and a 0.5% increase in February.

“The recent trend in the U.S. LEI, led by the positive outlook of consumers and financial markets, continues to point ...

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ISM: Manufacturing Growth Should Continue Through 2017

1 DAY AGO

According to the Institute for Supply Management (ISM), 64% of respondents from the panel of manufacturing supply management executives predict their revenues will be 8.5% greater in 2017 compared to 2016, 12% expect a 9.6% decline, and 24% foresee no change in revenue. This yields an overall averag...

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The Quest for Unconventional Gas Sources

vmspr12_gas_shaleThe Barnett Shale petroleum drilling site located in North Central Texas.The increasing focus on finding ways to depend less on foreign energy sources, coupled with the huge shale plays now available to U.S. and Canadian energy producers, is good news for the valve industry. However, with gas prices at near-record lows and lingering questions about the environmental impact of fracturing, challenges lie ahead.

The recent increase in shale gas production in the U.S. and ­Canada, made possible largely by technological advances, has meant access to reserves nearly impossible to tap a mere five years ago. For energy producers, as well as valve, actuator and control manufacturers and distributors, this access creates potential for profitable exploration. For consumers, it means a relatively inexpensive source of clean energy not subject to the whims and vagaries of politically unstable countries.

Still, while low natural gas prices are a boon to consumers and utilities, those lower prices have created a real challenge to producers over the past year. As of mid-February 2012, prices were hovering around $2.50 per thousand cubic feet, necessitating cutbacks in the Marcellus shale area and making it less viable to drill in more remote locations like Haynesville and Barnett. Several companies have recently announced intentions to either reduce the number of new wells drilled or reduce production at operating wells.

However, prices that go down will eventually come up, and with them, production rates will rise. In the meantime, unconventional natural gas producers and those who supply the industry continue to develop more efficient exploration and production methods, engineer more robust materials and implement special practices that balance economic viability with environmental responsibility.


THE CHALLENGES

So what challenges does this lucrative industry face?


Economics and Water Use

Mike Romano, global market manager, Unconventional Oil and Gas, Tyco Flow Control, says that the recent drop in gas prices is one of the most significant challenges to unconventional gas production today.

He points to the decoupling of gas from oil prices.

“Spot prices have dropped from around $12 per million British Thermal Units (BTU) in 2008. Now they’re at $2.50. Oil went down from $130 to $70 per barrel, but came back up to $100. Before, when gas or oil prices went up, the other followed, but when shale gas came into play, the prices started going in different directions.”

Why did this happen? Romano says because of lower demand caused by the financial crisis compounded by dramatic growth of gas production through new technologies.

Another challenge to the industry today is water management. Hydraulic fracturing for a typical horizontal shale gas well takes about 4.5 million gallons of water. Detractors of fracturing have accused producers of depleting the drinking water table even though companies such as Chesapeake and Encana have made it a practice to steer away from potable water use. In addition to using untreated water from rivers, creeks, lakes and groundwater, they use discharge water from industrial or city wastewater treatment plants. The fracturing industry also has adopted the practice of reusing frac water to lower consumption of new sources.

While the overall mix of water sources depends on the region, the costs associated with transporting water in and out of a site can be as much as $1 per barrel, a sizeable incentive to reduce water use and recycle whenever possible.

In addition to the water source controversy, the fluid used in the fracing process, which is comprised of water, sand and some chemicals, must be extracted from the well and either recycled or disposed of through proper channels. Surface water discharges of this flowback are regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires flowback to be treated before discharge into surface water or underground injection be treated before its discharge. Underground injection of flowback is regulated by either EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program or a state with primary UIC enforcement authority.

The problem was compounded recently when increased underground injection of frac wastewater was blamed for causing earthquakes near Youngstown, OH. Environmentalists used what happened to call for broader federal regulation and drilling mora­toriums. What effect this will have on continued development is yet to be seen.


Public perception

vmspr12_gas_butterfly_valvesButterfly valves in the field

In a recent interview on ValveMagazine.com, Chris Tucker, team lead, Energy in Depth (EID), pointed out that public perception is a major challenge facing the shale gas industry. [EID is a research, education and public outreach campaign launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009. Tucker was interviewed for an article posted Feb. 9, 2012].

While valve manufacturers, producers and pipeline operators seek ways to reduce emissions, improve safety and reduce the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas transport, opponents have gone to great lengths to malign these efforts. EID addresses this issue through media education and public outreach programs, but negative publicity remains a constant battle.

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