Exploration and Production Technologies
Cost-Effective Approaches to Enhance Domestic Oil and Gas Production and Ensure the Protection of the Environment

DE-FC26-01BC15371

Program
This project was selected in response to DOE's solicitation Oil and Gas Broad Based Announcement, DE-PS26-01BC41048, focus area Effective Environmental Protection.

Project Goal
The Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and State oil and gas agencies have developed the EIMS (Environmental Information Management System) and CERA (Cost-Effective Regulatory Approach) strategic plan to prioritize long-term development and implementation. The strategic planning process identified electronic commerce and coalbed natural gas (CBNG) as high priorities. The group also is seeking strategic partners in industry and government to develop a common data exchange process.

Technical assistance to Alaska continues to improve that State's program management capabilities. New initiatives in Alaska include the development of an electronic permit tracking system. This system allows managers to expedite the permitting process. Nationwide, the RBDMS (Risk-Based Data Management System) is largely completed, with 20 states and one Indian Nation now using this nationally accepted data management system. RBDMS will be installing the remaining oil and gas states upon request.

States and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and Minerals Management Service (MMS) are beginning the development of an the eXtensible Markup Language (XML) schema, which will help facilitate electronic reporting and permitting on Federal lands.

Performer
Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC)
Oklahoma City, OK

Project Results
The EIMS/RBDMS and CERA programs continue to be successful. All oil and gas State regulatory programs participate in these efforts. Significant accomplishments include streamlined regulatory approaches, enhanced environmental protection, and oil and gas data made available via the Internet. Oil and gas companies worldwide now have access to data on State websites. This reduces the cost of exploration and enables companies to develop properties in areas that would have been cost-prohibitive for exploration. The GWPC is working with the BLM and MMS to develop an XML schema to facilitate electronic permitting and reporting. This is a significant effort and, in years to come, will increase access to Federal lands by reducing regulatory barriers.

Benefits
Making available the wealth of information contained in these compatible databases creates an unparalleled opportunity for industry to improve exploration activities and increase production while improving environmental compliance. Attributes of RBDMS include its continued usefulness in assessing and reducing risk to drinking water, use of nonproprietary software, capability to address legacy databases, and adaptability to variations in State oil and gas regulatory and production accounting methods.

The Ground Water Protection Research Foundation's (GWPRF) CERA is an integral part of the RBDMS system. These effective and more-efficient policies and environmental program improvements developed through CERA can be implemented by all States. The principal project objectives of this projects are to continue implementing RBDMS Phase II, make these data available to industry, streamline permitting on State and Federal lands, reduce the cost of environmental compliance, and develop user-friendly online reporting techniques.

The historic focus of this project has benefited the State oil and gas agencies by improving their environmental compliance and oversight. It also has been of value to the industry by decreasing permit approval time. One major product has been the development of a translation utility that allows much better access to State-held data by the industry. The more readily available well and related geographic data have a direct effect of decreasing exploration and production costs.

Background
In 2002, GWPRF initiated a joint project with BLM and DOE to assess the feasibility of water-management and beneficial-use alternatives specific to CBNG produced water. The project is being performed with an integrated-team approach with participants from States, Federal agencies, universities, industry, and researchers. The Coal Bed Methane Beneficial Use handbook has been completed and is available in hard copy and electronic format. Based on the Coal Bed Methane survey, GWPC is developing a work plan for a Coal Bed Methane Module for RBDMS. This module will track CBNG wells in addition to produced-water quality. Produced-water quality data will be made available on agency websites.

Project Summary
Among the project milestones:

  • GWPC, BLM, and MMS have developed a business case for joint implementation of electronic reporting/permitting schemas. This business case identifies the procedures for pilot testing of electronic reporting and electronic permitting programs and for adoption by the American Petroleum Institute (API) as an industry standard.
  • The Nevada RBDMS installation has been completed. RBDMS is now operational at the Nevada Department of Environmental Quality and Nevada Department of Mines and Minerals. Nevada RBDMS also tracks geothermal wells.
  • The Arkansas RBDMS installation has been upgraded to interface with the generic field inspection utility and to be ready for e-commerce applications.
  • RBDMS in Alabama has been updated to track hydraulic fracturing data.
  • An integrated base installation and migration of legacy data were performed for the Alaska Oil & Gas Conservation Commission (AOGCC) in the past year. The Montana/Michigan data model was the starting point for the customization performed. This project included customization of the RBDMS application to account for the specific needs of the AOGCC.
  • An RBDMS needs survey was completed, and an RBDMS strategic plan was developed. Subsequent discussions with States and industry identified e-commerce priorities for future development. State regulatory agencies and the oil and gas industry identified e-commerce as the immediate need for RBDMS development. E-commerce is defined as online data access, online permitting, and online reporting of production and injection data.
  • The EIMS/RBDMS states have developed an XML schema to standardize e-reporting. State oil and gas board managers and technical staff believe that XML is an ideal format for sharing data with oil and gas industry operators. Two factors contribute strongly to this perception: its low cost in comparison with the cost of traditional electronic data interchange (EDI) and the wide availability of XML development tools. For all XML-enabled EDI applications, a schema specific to the oil and gas industry is needed as a means of first-round data validation. Agencies nationwide have embraced the schema as a standard. E-reporting initiatives are now being launched in Colorado and New York and are planned in Montana, Alaska, Utah, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania.
  • The GWPC State Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II State Peer Review effort is an opportunity for states to share experiences with their peers who administer the same (or similar) regulatory programs. States that have gone through the process feel strongly about the benefits of the effort. States serving as reviewers as well as those reading the reports benefit from the knowledge of how other agencies are dealing with specific issues. However, the agency that gains the most from the process is the one in the State being reviewed. The completed review document provides the State with a detailed report on the strengths and weaknesses of the agency, which can be used to advance the program and enhance the protection of groundwater. GWPC conducted two Class II UIC State Peer Reviews in 2003, including agencies in Montana and Arkansas. The Montana peer review document is being edited and soon will be posted at the GWPC project website at http://www.gwpc.org/classii.htm. The Arkansas peer review document is being edited and soon will be posted at the GWPC project website at http://www.gwpc.org/classii.htm.

Current Status (October 2005)
The RBDMS program is largely completed. Remaining tasks include routine maintenance and the installation of the program upon request for the remaining oil and gas States.

The new initiatives are CBNG and e-commerce. The e-commerce program will provide industry and BLM/MMS access to the millions of data points housed in the RBDMS system. E-commerce will streamline regulatory approaches and allow small operators to produce energy from areas that have become subeconomic for the major producers. The GWPC is working with states to develop a CBNG program, which will both manage the data and develop a public education program on the benefits of produced water.

The CERA program benefits all oil and gas States by reducing the cost of regulatory compliance, increasing environmental protection, and providing industry and regulatory agencies a discussion forum.

Publications
The GWPC EIMS/RBDMS 2003 Annual Report. 
Business Case for Collaborative Development of Shared Processes and Procedures by Participating US Federal and State Regulatory Agencies to Support Well Permits & Activity Reports.

A CBNG beneficial-use handbook (Coalbed Methane Primer: New Source of Natural Gas-Environmental Implications) has been developed and is available at
http://www.all-llc.com/CBM/.

Project Start: October 1, 2001
Project End: September 30, 2004

Anticipated DOE Contribution: $2,850,000
Performer Contribution: $ 751,000 (21% of total)

Other Government Organizations Involved
EPA, MMS, BLM

Contact Information
NETL - Dan Gurney (dan.Gurney@netl.doe.gov or 918-699-2063)
GWPC - Ben Gruenwald (bgruenwald@gwpc.org or 405-516-4972)

 
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