Exploration and Production Technologies
Water & Waste Regulatory Analysis

FEW3 49648/49658

Project Goal
This project provides regulatory and analytical support on water and waste issues relating to oil and gas exploration and production. The goal is to keep DOE informed of new U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State water and waste initiatives that may affect the oil and gas industry and to assist DOE in commenting on or influencing those initiatives so as to minimize impacts on the industry.

The objective of this project is to make sure that DOE is aware of water and waste regulatory issues that could impact oil and gas companies and to assist them in responding to those concerns. Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) has helped DOE prepare comments on important issues and conducted extensive technical analyses that have been used to influence regulatory decisions.

Another objective of this project is to disseminate information on water and waste issues and technologies to stakeholders through teaching workshops, presenting numerous papers, and writing reports and articles.

Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), Washington, DC

In the past decade, ANL has:

  • Reviewed EPA effluent limitations guidelines and NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) general permits for offshore gas and oil activities.
  • Provided assistance to DOE and EPA during development of new regulations for synthetic-based drilling fluids and spill prevention control and countermeasure (SPCC) and permits for stormwater runoff at drilling sites.
  • Evaluated regulatory barriers impeding a pilot project to use drill cuttings to restore wetlands.
  • Prepared detailed feasibility evaluations of emerging oilfield technologies and helped DOE with transferring those technologies to state agencies, operators, and others.
  • Developed a comprehensive workshop on water and waste regulatory issues and management technologies that has been taught several times.
  • Contributed expertise gained through many years of work on this project to other projects funded by DOE-FE and NETL, helping on a variety of produced-water, drilling-waste, and other waste issues, as the need arises—thereby leveraging DOE’s investments.
  • Developed and maintained the Salt Cavern Information website, the Drilling Waste Management Information website, and the NORM Connection website. In June 2007, ANL developed the Produced Water Management Information System which is now a part of the NETL website.
  • Developed a comprehensive national database of information on commercial waste disposal companies that accept exploration and production wastes.

This project provides current information to DOE staff on new water and waste issues, technologies, and regulations and assists DOE staff in commenting on proposed regulations. Although not readily quantifiable, the project’s contribution to the regulatory review process probably has saved the oil and gas industry at least several million dollars through avoidance of inappropriate and unnecessary regulatory requirements.

The information gained through this and related projects have been disseminated to interested stakeholders through numerous reports, articles, workshops, and conference presentations. This project has enabled ANL to serve as an informal clearinghouse of information for industry, State and Federal agencies, and the public at large.

One of DOE’s key missions is to ensure an adequate supply of affordable energy for the Nation. One way in which DOE supports that mission is to evaluate proposed Federal and State regulatory actions that would restrict or impede energy production. This project assists DOE in this capacity through review of EPA proposals affecting the oil and gas industry and pointing out inappropriate data, assumptions, and analyses.

The project is not structured to conduct a single specific research task. It is a flexible project that allows the performer to provide support to DOE on new issues that arise each year.

At various times over the past decade, ANL provided DOE-FE with extensive support on regulatory issues such as synthetic-based drilling fluids, effluent limitations guidelines for the offshore and coastal oil and gas sectors, management of coalbed natural gas produced water, stormwater permitting, SPCC regulations, and regulations for cooling water intake structures.

Recently, ANL has focused on issues relating to produced-water management In particular, ANL developed an innovative and interactive Produced Water Management Information System (PWMIS) website. The Technology Description module of PWMIS consists of 25 fact sheets describing different technologies. The Regulatory module provides separate information for 4 federal agencies and many oil- and gas-producing states, including links directly to relevant sections of agency websites. The Technology Identification module poses a series of questions to the users. Depending on the answers, the module suggests a subset of management options that make sense for the specific site in question. ANL also completed a detailed report and database that includes current information on the commercial waste disposal companies that are available for disposing of oilfield wastes.

Using the knowledge gained from these activities, ANL developed workshops and published numerous reports and articles to help in transferring knowledge and information to industry, government, academia, and other interested parties.

Current Status (February 2009) 
The project activities have been completed.. The most recent activities relate to the new PWMIS website. PWMIS opened for public use on June 15, 2007. ANL made several presentations about PWMIS and produced water technologies at leading oil and gas environmental conferences. ANL also organized a special full-day Produced Water Technology Symposium in November 2007 at the 14th International Petroleum Conference

The work on this field work proposal has concluded. On September 1, 2008 PWMIS was moved from a location on the ANL server to become part of the NETL website. The official web site for the PWMIS has changed to /research/coal/crosscutting/pwmis/index.

ANL continues to track new water and waste issues and send news articles to FE and NETL staff when appropriate. Also, ANL has sent letters to all state oil and gas agencies to begin the process of collecting data for the produced water and frac water studies, which are funded under a new FWP 49462.

This project was selected in response to DOE’s Headquarters Project Energy & Environmental Impact Analysis request.

Project Start: April 4, 2006 
Project End: June 6, 2008

Anticipated DOE Contribution: $250,000 
Performer Contribution: $0

Other Government Organizations Involved: EPA, MMS, BLM, State agencies

Contact Information
NETL - Jesse Garcia (jesse.garcia@netl.doe.gov or 918-699-2036)
ANL - John Veil (jveil@anl.gov or 202-488-2450)

Over the life of the project, Argonne has prepared more than 100 articles, reports, or presentations – several recent ones are shown below.

Produced Water Management Information System website. Opened June 2007.

Veil, J.A., M.G. Puder, R.G. Sullivan, P.D. Richmond, and T.J. Kotek, “Innovative and Interactive Produced-Water Information Resource,” SPE 105177, presented at the 2007 SPE E&P Environmental and Safety Conference held in Galveston, Texas, U.S.A., 5–7 March 2007.

Puder, M.G., and J.A.Veil, “Options and Costs for Offsite Disposal of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Wastes,” SPE 105178, presented at the 2007 SPE E&P Environmental and Safety Conference held in Galveston, Texas, U.S.A., 5–7 March 2007.

Puder, M.G., and J.A. Veil, “DOE Funds New Study on US Off Site Commercial Disposal of E&P Waste,” Oil & Gas Journal, November 6, 2006, pp. 37-45.

Puder, M.G., and J.A. Veil, “Offsite Commercial Disposal of Oil and Gas Exploration and Production Waste: Availability, Options, and Cost, prepared for U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, August 2006, 148 pp.

Veil, J.A., and M.G. Puder, “Observations on a Montana Water Quality Proposal,” prepared for U.S. Department of Energy, National Energy Technology Laboratory, January 2006, 35 pp.

Veil, J.A., Produced Water Regulatory and Compliance Issues, Workshop on Produced Water Management and Injection—“Where Are We, and What Are We Doing?,” at the 2006 Society of Petroleum Engineers International Symposium & Exhibition on Formation Damage Control, Lafayette, LA, February 17, 2006.

Veil, J.A., and Puder, M.G., “Regulatory Considerations in the Management of Produced Water—A U.S. Perspective,” GasTIPS, Summer 2005.

Burnett, D., and Veil, J.A., “Emerging Technology Promises New Solutions for Produced Water,” American Oil and Gas Reporter, March 2005, pp. 136-160.

Veil, J.A.,” Innovative Technologies for Managing Oil Field Waste,” Journal of Energy Resources Technology 125(3), September 2003, 238-248.

Veil, J.A., “Drilling Waste Management,” Journal of Petroleum Technology, November 2002, pp. 50-52.

Veil, J., “Regulatory Issues Affecting Management of Produced Water from Coal Bed Methane Wells,” prepared for U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, January 30, 2002, 14 pp.

Schematic of the slurry injection system used for disposal of oilfield waste.

Offshore oil platform where synthetic-based mud samples were taken for EPA analysis.