When subscribers of American Gas magazine receive their February edition, they’ll notice a few changes.
In keeping with its tradition of innovation and industry expertise, the American Gas Association (AGA) has redesigned its monthly trade publication to bring readers even more of the best news and information on natural gas utilities and the role they are playing in America’s energy future.
New magazine content will explore the business of gas – how everything from commodity markets to regulations affects the bottom line. Coverage will also include updates about AGA’s advocacy efforts on behalf of its members, along with profiles of emerging voices within the natural gas industry.
America’s natural gas utilities touch almost every segment of their customers’ lives. In turn they become a crucial part of the nation’s economic recovery, environmental health and national security. American Gas examines both the technical and regulatory systems and processes that ensure the continued safe and reliable delivery of natural gas, as well as the broader benefits the industry brings to society. Check out February’s edition for in-depth coverage of all of these issues and more.
Join the energy conversation today. Subscribe to American Gas here.
Andrew Revkin over at the Times blog Dot Earth has a great story titled “An M.I.T. Plan for Natural Gas With Planet in Mind.” In the story he takes a look at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology new release “The Future of Natural Gas.” A couple snippets from the article that caught my eye:
M.I.T. team’s conclusion on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”: The environmental impacts of shale development are challenging but manageable. Research and regulation, both state and federal, are needed to minimize the environmental consequences.
On gas to provide a flexible source of “fill in” power to complement expanded use of variable wind power: Furthermore, additional gas-fired capacity will be needed as backup if variable and intermittent renewables, especially wind, are introduced on a large scale. Policy and regulatory steps are needed to facilitate adequate capacity investment for system reliability and efficiency. These increasingly important roles for natural gas in the electricity sector call for a detailed analysis of the interdependencies of the natural gas and power generation infrastructures.
Be sure to take a trip over to read the full article.
I’m not sure if you have seen the new EPA report on emissions related to natural gas, but for those who are not familiar with the data under discussion the conclusion is misleading.
First and foremost, though, kudos to the EPA for looking at upstream emissions for comparing natural gas to other options. The problem, however, is that the actual data used is limited and may even inflate methane emissions by several orders of magnitude.
The EPA and everyone else in the industry has been using “emission factors” developed long ago to estimate how much methane leaks from production wells, pipeline valves and the like. It’s common knowledge that these emission factors were based on very limited field testing performed nearly 20 years ago, and that they are seriously in need of updating and refinement. The EPA even addresses this issue of outdated data in its November 2010 Technical Support document. However, without any support to back up the claim, the EPA then claims that emissions today may be higher than they were 20 years ago.
Not only is such a statement wholly unsupported by any data, it’s actually in opposition to recent findings. EPA’s Natural Gas STAR program managers, fully aware of the problem with outdated information, took steps about four years ago to launch a joint research project with energy industry trade groups to do new, more extensive field testing on modern natural gas systems to see what is really going on and to develop updated emission factors.
That work has already resulted in some new emission factors for natural gas distribution and transmission equipment, and other work is continuing this year and next. The work so far shows that methane emissions are declining as natural gas systems become tighter as the result of new technology, equipment and procedures.
And let’s not forget that even using the old inflated emission factors, EPA estimates that natural gas is more efficient and lower emitting than other options.
As an engineer, I find misleading conversations and docudramas on the realities of drilling for natural gas frustrating to say the least. So I’d like to take a moment of your time and review drilling 101.
“Drilling is drilling.” Yes, it’s that simple. Even if you missed that day of class, you still graduate with this rudimentary fact. Active drilling…completion procedures…production…well stimulation by hydraulic fracturing – by any other name is still “drilling.”
This activity is currently regulated on the state level and some might ask why drilling is not completely federally regulated. Where should I start? Methods and means of drilling are common but can have characteristic geographic differences that determine the optimal drilling mud system and completion methods to be used. More importantly, each state jurisdiction has regulatory rules for drilling, completion, and production – the number of casings that must be used and where they must be set; cementing requirements; fracture gradient limitations; setback distances of well locations from drilling unit boundaries, etc. Augment this with water production, fresh water resource protections and produced water handling/disposal subject to state regulatory rules and a robust Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Underground Injection Control (UIC) program or, a state-administered program determined by the EPA to meet or exceed EPA standards as a result of regulations developed and continuing to evolve from enforcement of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). Thus, there exists a strong and comprehensive measure of government oversight presently that effectively accounts for regional geological differences.
No one is disputing that further concern over drilling and production of any sort and the impact on fresh water resources should not be taken up. However, let’s focus our efforts where they will result in the most sensible applications – at the state level where issues of geologic and operational levels are best understood.