U.S. Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham announced the selection of nine projects totaling $10 million to develop the nation's oil and gas resources and protect the environment. The new projects, part of the Department of Energy's Oil and Natural Gas Environmental Program, will address issues to further boost President Bush's emphasis on energy security.
"The less dependent we are on foreign energy sources, the more secure we are at home," Secretary Abraham said. "We must increase domestic supplies of oil and gas while simultaneously protecting the environment. This new undertaking will meet both needs."
The awards address issues that currently restrict domestic oil and gas production, support development of new technologies and explore more efficient and environmentally responsible oil and gas production. The nine projects concentrate on two primary areas – access to resources on federal lands and "produced water" management.
The first two projects are part of the federal lands spotlight and involve data exchange and analysis between federal, state and local government agencies. They are geared to streamline the data management process. The last seven projects target produced water, the largest volume byproduct or waste stream associated with oil and gas production. They use low-cost technologies for treating and handling produced water and best management practices for handling, treating and disposal.
The projects are:
Groundwater Protection Research Foundation (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will integrate state-collected environmental data with the U.S. Bureau of Land Management lease stipulation data and oil and gas reserves inventories. Data will be available to industry on websites that will allow internet-based well permitting and bulk transfer between government and industry. (Total award value: $1.80 million)
Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will develop faster and more comprehensive access to existing oil and gas data. This will allow land management agencies and operators to make faster and better decisions that support the balance between environmental protection and appropriate levels of development. (Total award value: $1.14 million)
Colorado School of Mines (Golden, Colo.) will address produced water management from production through treatment and beneficial use. One example of the work being done is the use of carbon dioxide injection to minimize the amount of water produced with coalbed methane natural gas. Seven partners will also further characterize the hydrogeology and soil science of the Powder River Basin. (Total award value: $2.68 million)
Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (Oklahoma City, Okla.) will identify, verify, and compile best management practices for produced water from conventional oil and gas operations. It will also evaluate produced water management from a holistic standpoint, including beneficial use, water resource impacts, pre-release treatment, and regulatory issues. (Total award value: $877,000)
New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (Socorro, N.M.) will develop a new reverse osmosis technology to efficiently treat the high total dissolved salts in produced water. (Total award value: $1.14 million)
Oklahoma State University (Stillwater, Okla.) will generate field data to learn the true potential for environmental effects, and whether existing discharge standards are appropriate. Lab toxicology tests are part of this project. (Total award value: $230,000)
Texas A&M University – Texas Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, Texas) will develop cleaning agents for water treatment facilities, and new practices to remove plugging materials and to restore microfilter and reverse osmosis membrane performance. (Total award value: $596,000)
University of Texas (Austin, Texas) will provide new alternatives to purify produced water from oil and gas exploration. This research may provide a new source of purified water in drought-stricken regions of the country. (Total award value: $691,000)
University of Texas (Austin, Texas) will conduct a long-term field test of a prototype surfactant modified zeolite treatment system for removing dissolved organics from produced water. (Total award value: $989,000)