Posts Tagged ‘West Virginia Water Research Institute’

WVU a Hotbed of Research Activity

Written by Janet Metzner, Legal Reporter, The Intelligencer on . Posted in Media, News

Which Fracking Water To Watch

Paul Ziemkiewicz, director, West Virginia Water Research Institute, says the general public often worries about the wrong water in the fracking process.

The water that becomes contaminated is what’s removed from the well, he explained, citing research from the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory. It’s located along the Monongahela River in Morgantown, and its researchers are focused on improving production of natural gas and oil.

The university launched the four-acre lab in 2014, as a partnership with Northeast Natural Energy, the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy, and The Ohio State University, according to a June 26, 2015, article in “WVU Today” magazine.

Basically, it’s the water coming out of the well, called end-of-cycle water, that is contaminated, not the water going into the wells, Ziemkiewicz said. And the big issue is “what to do with the water coming out,” he said.

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Researchers at KU, WVU to strengthen water-stewardship practices for U.S. energy production

Written by Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy on . Posted in News, Press Release

Every year in the U.S., a whopping 20 billion barrels of water are generated as a byproduct of domestic oil and gas recovery, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Safe and environmentally responsible management of this “produced water” is important to energy companies, farmers, ecosystems and everyday people whose drinking water comes from associated aquifers.

Now, a joint research effort founded by the University of Kansas and West Virginia University — funded by a new $4 million grant from the National Science Foundation — aims to develop cutting-edge strategies for better management, treatment, protection and recovery of produced water. The scientists behind the work hope to establish a permanent center focused on research-proven best practices for handling produced water nationwide.

“Obviously, we need energy,” said Edward Peltier, KU associate professor of civil, environmental and architectural engineering, who is the primary investigator of the new project. “We use energy resources every day, and we’ll continue to use them. That means the better job we do producing energy in an efficient, clean manner — and not affecting other resources like water quality — the better off we are.”

Paul Ziemkiewicz, co-PI of the new grant and director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at WVU, pointed out that until now there has been no nationally coordinated research effort to address issues tied to produced water.

“NSF’s support will create a national center for technology development as well as training and outreach to recruit a new generation of specialists to address this challenge,” he said.

All oil and gas production, whether by conventional or hydraulic fracturing methods, generates produced water. Its characteristics vary among the nation’s petroleum basins.

“It’s a combination of returned water injected into the ground as part of oil and gas recovery, as well as formation water, trapped inside the rock along with the petroleum — how much water comes out depends on the local geology. Kansas wells produce more water than oil,” Peltier said.

Ziemkiewicz added that Appalachian shale gas wells are net water consumers.

“So far, new well completions have absorbed most of our produced water, but as new completions decline, we need to find new ways to manage this water,” he said.

Across the country, this water has high salt content and other contaminants.

As a result, the researchers said there are issues with reusing water directly or discharging it on the surface. Currently, the leading form of disposal of produced water is reinjection into the subsurface. The practice has gained notoriety in some regions because of its association with earthquakes. Indeed, Kansas now puts regulatory curbs on deep-well re-injection of produced water.

The research under the new NSF grant will develop practices to improve the safety of deep-well injection and develop economical methods for treating produced water so that it can be reused.

“We want to come up with management and treatment techniques so we can reuse this water,” Peltier said. “It needs to be treated before it can be reused. This project is focused on ways to treat the water, to manage the production process so we have less wastewater to deal with and looking at the impact of water in ecosystems when it’s released. How much do we treat it so it doesn’t have harmful effects?”

Differences in the geology of plains Kansas and mountainous West Virginia mean the joint investigation into produced water at KU and WVU will have national application.

“We’ll initially focus on the central plains and Appalachian basins,” Peltier said. “We think there will broader applicability to the work we do that will apply to other petroleum basins.”

Moreover, the research assets of the partner institutions will complement each other. For instance, WVU operates the Marcellus Shale Energy and Environment Laboratory, a long-term field site supported by the DOE National Energy Technology Laboratory. WVU researchers led by Ziemkiewicz are studying water used in hydraulic fracturing through the late stages of the produced water cycle.

Similarly, KU has field resources already established that will sustain the partnership.

“KU has the Tertiary Oil Recovery Program that has worked with oil producers in Kansas developing various recovery strategies and large-scale field tests,” Peltier said. “The goal here is both KU and WVU have overlap in energy and production and water treatment and protection. So we want to establish a long-term relationship, so even at end of this grant we’ll have additional cross-disciplinary and cross-university projects extending beyond the length of the grant.”

Students at both universities will benefit from new programs created by the grant, which the researchers said would help train a new generation of experts in sustainable oil and gas recovery practices.

“We’ll have undergraduate students cross-training each other’s universities and departments to strengthen research ties and match students with instructors at both schools, and we’ll have junior faculty going back and forth to establish partners they can work with in the lab, in the field and at the well in West Virginia,” said Peltier.

Programs involved in the new NSF grant include KU’s Department of Civil, Environmental and Architectural Engineering, Tertiary Oil Recovery Program and Department of Chemical & Petroleum Engineering. In addition to the Water Research Institute, the WVU team includes Lance Lin, civil and environmental engineering Harry Finklea, chemistry Joe Donovan, geology Todd Petty and Eric Merriam of wildlife and fisheries, and Shawn Grushecky of the Energy Land Management Program.

-WVU-

CONTACT: Tracy Novak, National Research Center for Coal and Energy
304.293.6928, Tracy.Novak@mail.wvu.edu

WVU researcher leads study identifying active reservoir management as a safer method for underground CO2 storage

Written by Andrew Stacy on . Posted in News, Press Release

In a recently published study, a team of researchers identified a process for managing reservoir pressure that improves the safety of underground carbon storage.

The study team, led by Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz, director of the West Virginia Water Research Institute at West Virginia University and researchers from the University of Wyoming, and Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories published their findings in the August 2016 issue of the International Journal of Greenhouse Gas Control.

Efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel combustion hinge on capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) and permanently storing it. However, finding a permanent home for CO2 is not a simple matter. One option is to store the CO2 deep underground.

Underground storage of CO2 involves pressurizing it to the point where it becomes a liquid and forcing it into porous, deep geological rock formations like sandstone.

These formations have an overlying cap rock formation that will prevent seepage to the surface. Unfortunately, the pore spaces in these deep rock formations are invariably filled with saline water, or brine.

“Water is not very compressible,” said Ziemkiewicz. “If you try to inject carbon dioxide into the formation you need to do so under pressure and then it acts like a piston, transferring that pressurized water to the weakest part of the system. If that pressure is too high it will fracture the cap rock and the CO2 escapes.”

Without pressure management, the best outcome is that the carbon dioxide dissipates gradually through the target formation and remains where it belongs. However, that leaves a lot of uncertainty and restricts the rate at which carbon dioxide can be put into an injection well.

As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency has placed very stringent conditions on carbon storage wells. Regulated as class VI injection wells, the liabilities associated with them are essentially perpetual and few companies are willing to assume that level of financial risk.

Ziemkiewicz pointed out that the carbon storage issue is one of the major factors restricting the adoption of carbon capture technologies “but, if we can manage water in the target formation, we can manage pressure and ultimately, risk.”

In the study, the research team describes a process for controlling reservoir pressure by pumping brine from the target formation prior to carbon dioxide injection.

A single well is used to first withdraw brine then fill the de-watered voids with liquid carbon dioxide. That way, rather than using carbon dioxide to push water out of the way, which can cause unpredictable fracturing, it fills a prepared void and most of the formation’s porous spaces can be used for carbon storage.

This increases reservoir storage capacity and the CO2 never has a chance to build up excessive pressure and stays where it should. The produced brine can be treated for beneficial use.

Dr. Jeri Sullivan Graham, co-author from Los Alamos National Laboratory, points out that the extracted saline water may be a valuable resource if economical desalination can be achieved.

“The water from the formations that we studied in the Tianjin region is brackish-that is, relatively low in salinity. This means that desalination and reuse of the water in this very water-stressed region is highly feasible and could be a game-changer in terms of water resource augmentation.”

Once a zone around a well is filled with carbon dioxide, another well can be developed to repeat the cycle. By replacing withdrawn water with carbon dioxide, the pressure can be returned to the original level, preventing either cap rock fracture or subsidence.

“Another benefit of removing brine prior to storing CO2 is that this removal provides the well-field operators important information about the character of the target formation before any CO2 is stored, which reduces operational risk.” said Dr. Thomas Buscheck, co-author of the study and earth scientist with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

This concept of using multi-purpose wells for reservoir characterization, injection, and withdrawal may be useful in developing other types of underground injection wells where cap rock fracturing and induced seismicity is an issue.

The project was supported by the U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S.-China Clean Energy Research Center’s Advanced Coal Technology Consortium (ACTC). The study is now available online at http://www.journals.elsevier.com/international-journal-of-greenhouse-gas-control/.

-WVU-

as/08/29/2016

CONTACT: Paul Ziemkiewicz, West Virginia Water Research Institute
304.293.6958, Paul.Ziemkiewicz@mail.wvu.edu

WVU helps countries better understand responsible development, management and impact of unconventional gas resources

Written by WVU News on . Posted in Media, News

Recognizing the depth and breadth of its knowledge about unconventional natural gas resources, the United States Department of State has called on West Virginia University to share that expertise with the world.

With increasing interest in natural gas development both in the U.S. and worldwide, the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources has reached a cooperative agreement with WVU to create the International Forum on Unconventional Gas Sustainability and the Environment, or INFUSE, a unique technical program dedicated to increasing other countries’ understanding of best practices for unconventional gas resource development through a mix of classroom and in the field activities.

Housed within the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and in collaboration with the WVU Energy Institute, INFUSE uses scientific, technical, policy and environmental lessons that the University has learned through its decades of research to inform international delegations on how proper development and management can reduce environmental risks and lead to sustainable resource development.

“The INFUSE program demonstrates WVU’s leadership and expertise on this critical, global energy topic,” says Brian Anderson, director of the WVU Energy Institute. “We have seen the widespread development of unconventional oil and gas production completely change the energy landscape of the United States and seen the best industry practices evolve over the past decade.

“WVU researchers have continually been on the forefront of developing these technologies and policy innovations; thus, we are uniquely positioned to educate others in the issues and best practices in unconventional hydrocarbon development,” Anderson said.

The program draws upon additional WVU expertise from the Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources, the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design, the College of Law, School of Public Health, Regional Research Institute and the West Virginia Water Research Institute. Topics include policies, data, environment, safety, health, water usage, emissions, outreach and engagement with communities, workforce development, risks and rewards, policies and more. To date, four countries have participated (Mexico, Colombia, Morocco, Lithuania). Additional countries will be visiting WVU beginning this fall.

WVU researchers from multiple areas of study have been examining all aspects of shale gas development since production began a decade ago. The most recent interdisciplinary project was the formation of the nation’s first integrated research initiative on shale gas drilling, completion and production.

The Marcellus Shale Energy and Environmental Laboratory, known as MSEEL, is a partnership with The Ohio State University, Northeast Natural Energy and the National Energy Technology Laboratory of the U.S. Department of Energy.

Scientists, engineers, ecologists, public health professionals, social scientists and more from eight units across the University, in addition to partnering organizations, are collecting data in real time from a science well and two production wells, as well as the surrounding site, to gain a comprehensive understanding of the entire life cycle – from drilling to completion to production.

Tim Carr, professor in the department of geology and geography and principal investigator of MSEEL, is an enthusiastic proponent of INFUSE. “MSEEL and other WVU research efforts on unconventional resources in the Appalachian basin and around the world provides a solid foundation for the short courses, site visits, and briefings that comprise our global outreach efforts.”

-WVU-

ms/07/28/16

CONTACT: Brian Anderson, WVU Energy Institute
304.293.6631, Brian.Anderson@mail.wvu.edu
or
Tim Carr, Department of Geology and Geography
304.293.9660, tim.carr@mail.wvu.edu