First Uinta basin ozone formation study released

A collaboration involving Utah’s Division of Air Quality, county governments in eastern Utah, researchers from Utah State University, and the Western Energy Alliance has produced the first study of wintertime ozone formation conditions and characteristics in the Uinta basin.

“This report represents the first phase of a multiyear study of how ozone forms in the Uinta basin,” said Brock LeBaron, UDAQ deputy director, as the report was released at the Bingham Research Center on USU’s campus in Vernal. “We know that under the right meteorological conditions, ozone can form here during the winter. The governor wanted to form a partnership to understand how this happens, and how to deal with it.”

Seth Lyman, the Bingham Research Center’s executive director, said the report was significant because it is one of the first to examine wintertime ozone formation conditions and developed several significant findings. While summertime ozone formation in urban areas has been extensively examined, the same can’t be said for rural areas’ wintertime ozone formation, he indicated.

“Snow cover is a significant formation factor,” the report said. “First, since it reflects sunlight, it limits daytime heating of the earth’s surface, keeping air cool and promoting temperature inversions. Second, the total amount of solar radiation passing through the atmosphere and available to drive chemical reactions responsible for ozone formation is nearly doubled as the snow cover reflects the incoming sunlight.”

Snow cover may also promote heterogeneous chemical reactions that enhance ozone formation, it added.

Primarily local

Analysis of historical weather data indicates that ozone formation conditions can occur on at least some days during half of each winter season in the Uinta basin, the report stated. Most of these are from sources within the basin and not transported from elsewhere, it said.

Researchers found, however, that Uinta basin oil and gas operations were responsible for 98-99% of the volatile organic compounds and 57-61% of the nitrogen oxides that were measured. “It’s important to remember, however, that there aren’t a lot of people here and not much other industry,” LeBaron said. “Other emission sources weren’t considered because it was believed their releases would be small.”

“From a local government perspective, this matters to our community,” Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee said. “The oil and gas industry is 60% of our economy and 50% of our jobs. Air quality and contributing factors matter to us too. There are a lot of references in the study to the need for more information. We’ve learned a lot, but need to learn much more.”

“Industry has been proactively involved in these issues for several years,” said Kathleen Sgamma, vice-president of government and public affairs at the Western Energy Alliance in Denver. “Our member companies funded monitors in the basin which determined there were ozone formation conditions for the first time.”

The winter of 2012-13 was significantly warmer and dryer than normal, she continued, “but it provided us with great baseline data. There are still more studies to be done. We look forward to improving inventories and developing chemical models to determine the best way to reduce ozone formation and able to continue development into the future while making sure air quality is improved in the basin.”

Information limited

“The scientists were uncomfortable about making regulatory recommendations,” Lyman said. “We need to be very careful about NOx regulatory proposals. There also is new tribal minor source permitting programming beginning in 2014, where the only one that has existed so far was in the state.”

Lyman said, “We talked about possible response measures. Especially now, when we’re in a proactive, voluntary mode, there’s been a lot of discussion with producers about things they could do, such as only picking up water or drilling during certain times of the year. The producers know their business best. I’m sure there are discretionary steps that could be taken.”

McKee warned that premature arbitrary actions should be avoided. “Industry faces several challenges,” he said. “When a producer schedules a drilling rig, it wants to keep it working. With their resource management plans, they’re already precluded from drilling during certain times of year. They may already be dealing with tight windows. Also, with natural gas prices as low as they’ve been, industry might say it’s no longer worth drilling here.”

Sgamma also cautioned about adopting measures taken elsewhere without determining they would be suitable locally. “It’s important to understand that conditions here in the Uinta Basin are different than in the Green River basin farther north,” she said. “For one thing, ozone formation episodes can last longer here. If companies are asked to suspend operations, residents who work for them can be put out of work for several weeks.”

Contact Nick Snow at nicks@pennwell.com.

Related Articles

FourPoint Energy to acquire Anadarko basin assets from Chesapeake

07/02/2015 FourPoint Energy LLC, a privately owned Denver company, plans to acquire oil and gas assets from Chesapeake Energy Corp. subsidiaries Chesapeake Ex...

Puma Energy completes purchase of Murco’s UK refinery, terminals

07/02/2015 Singapore-based Puma Energy Group Pte. has completed its purchase of UK midstream and downstream assets from Murco Petroleum Ltd., a subsidiary of ...

BP to settle federal, state Deepwater Horizon claims for $18.7 billion

07/02/2015 BP Exploration & Production Inc. has agreed in principle to settle all federal and state claims arising from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon inciden...

MARKET WATCH: NYMEX oil prices plummet on crude inventory build, Iran deadline extension

07/02/2015 Oil prices plummeted more than $2/bbl July 1 to settle at a 2-month low on the New York market after a weekly government report showed the first ri...

API to issue recommended practice to address pipeline safety

07/01/2015 The American Petroleum Institute expects to issue a new recommended practice in another few weeks that addresses pipeline safety issues, but the tr...

Shell Midstream Partners takes interest in Poseidon oil pipeline

07/01/2015 Shell Midstream Partners LP has completed its acquisition of 36% equity interest in Poseidon Oil Pipeline Co. LLC from Equilon Enterprises LLC, a s...

MARKET WATCH: Oil prices decline as US crude inventories post first gain in 9 weeks

07/01/2015 Oil prices on July 1 surrendered much of their gains from the day before after the release of a government report showing the first rise in US crud...

FWS issues Shell letter of authorization on Chukchi Sea lease

07/01/2015 The US Fish & Wildlife Service issued Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc. a letter of authorization (LOA) related to the potential disturbance of polar b...

USGS: Water usage for fracturing varies widely across shale plays

07/01/2015 The volume of water required to hydraulically fracture wells varies widely across the country, according to the first national analysis and map of ...
White Papers

2015 Global Engineering Information Management Solutions Competitive Strategy Innovation and Leadership Award

The Frost & Sullivan Best Practices Awards recognise companies in a variety of regional and global...
Sponsored by

Three Tips to Improve Safety in the Oil Field

Working oil fields will always be tough work with inherent risks. There’s no getting around that. Ther...
Sponsored by

Pipeline Integrity: Best Practices to Prevent, Detect, and Mitigate Commodity Releases

Commodity releases can have catastrophic consequences, so ensuring pipeline integrity is crucial for p...
Sponsored by

AVEVA’s Digital Asset Approach - Defining a new era of collaboration in capital projects and asset operations

There is constant, intensive change in the capital projects and asset life cycle management. New chall...
Sponsored by

Transforming the Oil and Gas Industry with EPPM

With budgets in the billions, timelines spanning years, and life cycles extending over decades, oil an...
Sponsored by

Asset Decommissioning in Oil & Gas: Transforming Business

Asset intensive organizations like Oil and Gas have their own industry specific challenges when it com...
Sponsored by

Squeezing the Green: How to Cut Petroleum Downstream Costs and Optimize Processing Efficiencies with Enterprise Project Portfolio Management Solutions

As the downstream petroleum industry grapples with change in every sector and at every level, includin...
Sponsored by

7 Steps to Improve Oil & Gas Asset Decommissioning

Global competition and volatile markets are creating a challenging business climate for project based ...
Sponsored by
Available Webcasts


OGJ's Midyear Forecast 2015

When Fri, Jul 10, 2015

This webcast is to be presented by OGJ Editor Bob Tippee and Senior Economic Editor Conglin Xu.  They will summarize the Midyear Forecast projections in key categories, note important changes from January’s forecasts, and examine reasons for the adjustments.

register:WEBCAST


Predictive Analytics in your digital oilfield - Optimize Production Yield and Reduce Operational Costs

When Tue, Jul 7, 2015

Putting predictive analytics to work in your oilfield can help you anticipate failures, plan and schedule work in advance, eliminate emergency work and catastrophic failures, and at the same time you can optimize working capital and improve resource utilization.  When you apply analytic capabilities to critical production assets it is possible to reduce non-productive time and increase your yield.

Learn how IBM's analytics capabilities can be applied to critical production assets with the goal of reducing non-productive time, increasing yield and reducing operations costs.

register:WEBCAST



On Demand

Cognitive Solutions for Upstream Oil and Gas

Fri, Jun 12, 2015

The oil & gas sector is under pressure on all sides. Reserves are limited and it’s becoming increasingly expensive to find and extract new resources. Margins are already being squeezed in an industry where one wrong decision can cost millions. Analyzing data used in energy exploration can save millions of dollars as we develop ways to predict where and how to extract the world’s massive energy reserves.

This session with IBM Subject Matter Experts will discuss how IBM Cognitive Solutions contribute to the oil and gas industry using predictive analytics and cognitive computing, as well as real time streaming for exploration and drilling.

register:WEBCAST


The Alternative Fuel Movement: Four Need-to-Know Excise Tax Complexities

Thu, Jun 4, 2015

Discussion on how to approach, and ultimately embrace, the alternative fuel market by pulling back the veil on excise tax complexities. Taxes may be an aggravating part of daily operations, but their accuracy is crucial in your path towards business success.

register:WEBCAST


Emerson Micro Motion Videos

Careers at TOTAL

Careers at TOTAL - Videos

More than 600 job openings are now online, watch videos and learn more!

 

Click Here to Watch

Other Oil & Gas Industry Jobs

Search More Job Listings >>
Stay Connected