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Threats To The Southern Hills Aquifer System Develop In Louisiana

This article is printed in “The Louisiana Weekly” within the Might 19, 2014 version.
A ten-parish area from better Baton Rouge to St. Tammany Parish will get its drinking water from the Southern Hills Aquifer system — plenty of interdependent items that start to the north in Mississippi. Over half a century of efforts to protect the aquifer from business have yielded outcomes however extra must be executed. Fracking in the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale play in Southeast Louisiana is one threat. New Orleans-based mostly Helis Oil & Fuel wants to drill down via the aquifer close to Mandeville, La. this summer season. An even bigger menace, however, is salt’s entry into the system as water demand swells in Baton Rouge.

In the meantime, New Orleans uses some groundwater for trade, including energy technology, from the Gonzales-New Orleans aquifer. But the Crescent Metropolis depends on the Mississippi River for drinking water.

Salinity has increased in the Southern Hills Aquifer system due to water needs in and around Baton Rouge. “Both industry and public supply users, such because the Baton Rouge Water Company, are drawing saline water north across the Baton Rouge fault from the south towards a demand middle — a cluster of industries north of downtown Baton Rouge,” geologist and hydrologist Douglas Carlson, an assistant professor of research at Louisiana State College, mentioned final week. “Public provide wells are usually spread out in East Baton Rouge Parish, and their demand is more diffuse than industries concentrated north of downtown Baton Rouge.”

Considerable salt water intrusion has occurred north of the Baton Rouge fault. “This fault lies roughly along I-10 by East Baton Rouge Parish,” Carlson stated. Salt water threatens a major drinking water source, the Lula Pumping Station, close to the intersection of Choctaw Dr. and No. Acadian Thruway.

Water use in East Baton Rouge Parish expanded 50 % from 1960 to 2010. Based mostly on a number of research, business’s water demand within the parish fell to forty four % of whole usage in 2010 from 78 % in 1960, while public supply use grew to 50 p.c from 20 percent in 1960, Carlson mentioned. Larger Baton Rouge’s population has increased, especially since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Paper producers account for about half of industry’s withdrawals of aquifer water in East Baton Rouge Parish, Carlson said. One third of industrial demand is from chemical corporations, and one sixth is from petroleum refineries. That sample is little modified from 25 years in the past, he famous. Municipal drinking water within the parish is mostly from the 1,500-foot sands, while industrial customers, together with Georgia-Pacific and ExxonMobil, draw from the 1,700- to 2,400-foot sands. Foot-sands check with depths below the ground’s floor.

The Capital Space Floor Water Conservation Fee — a five-parish management district created by the state legislature — set limits on water utilized by business from 2,000-foot sands in 1991 and decreased these caps final September, CAGWCC director Anthony Duplechin stated last week. In September, the fee additionally placed some limits on 1,500-foot sands reserved for public supply users. Caps on trade and public provide customers are larger than present water withdrawals, nonetheless.

In November, state Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh despatched a letter to CAGWCC recommending that it develop a plan with specific steps and goals to address saltwater intrusion. The Workplace of Conservation, he said, is prepared to assist and supply steerage.

State Representative “Ted” James II, D-Baton Rouge, drew up a bill this spring that will have limited industrial utilization from the aquifer in Baton Rouge over the next six years. “The bill didn’t get out of committee,” Hays Town Jr. founder of Baton Rouge Residents to save Our Water, Inc. stated last week. “Industry is just too strong in the legislature.” Groups and commissions have studied the world’s salt water intrusion for years but residents must take an curiosity and exert pressure on legislators to protect the aquifer, Town said.

In the meantime, at ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery and chemical plant, dependence on groundwater has declined and about half the water used now is from the Mississippi River, spokeswoman Lana Venable stated last week. “We constructed our clarified river water unit in 1971, and over the years upgraded it to deal with extra river water,” she mentioned. “We converted six cooling towers from groundwater to river water in the last seven years.” The corporate plans to continue expanding its river water usage, she stated.

In 2012, ExxonMobil Baton Rouge submitted a 2013-14 groundwater discount plan of 1.6 million gallons a day to the state’s Department of Natural Assets and expects to satisfy that goal by next year’s finish. “Our reductions in use from the 2,000-foot aquifer will come from utilizing clarified river water, and a few of it’s going to come from utilizing various aquifers,” Venable mentioned.

As a member of the CAGWCC, ExxonMobil is dedicated to using sound science to develop efficient, long-term strategies to guard groundwater, she mentioned. For the 2,000-foot aquifer, the company supports development of scavenger wells, which capture salt seeping toward close by manufacturing wells. Venable said studies by the U.S. Geological Survey and others utilizing computer fashions have proven that the most effective strategy by all users to managing the 2,000-foot aquifer is a mixture of scavenger wells and less contemporary water pumping.

At Georgia-Pacific’s Port Hudson facility in East Baton Rouge Parish, spokeswoman Patty Prats-Swanson mentioned paper manufacturing is water intensive. “It is ninety nine p.c water,” she stated. “To make paper towels and bathroom tissue, we’d like good clear water.” Nonetheless, the Port Hudson facility has reduce its ground water use by 20 % within the final two a long time.

Georgia-Pacific will get a 3rd of its water from the very shallow part of the aquifer system that does not contribute to the area’s drinking water, Prats-Swanson mentioned. That water is brent crude oil chart nasdaq decrease in high quality and must be processed before the corporate makes use of it. One other third of the ground water utilized at Port Hudson is from 2,800-foot sands, which aren’t thought-about by hydrologists to be underneath stress.

“We regularly evaluate reduction, reuse and recycling tasks that can help in conservation,” Prats-Swanson stated. Water that is sprayed on piles of logs so they don’t dry out is from shallow wells, and it’s collected and reused.

Increased fracking within the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale play in recent years has raised considerations about aquifer contamination and additional water demand. In two shows last 12 months, one in April and another in September, Commissioner of Conservation Welsh stated the state encourages frackers to use floor moderately than floor water

Frackers usually require 3 million to 10 million gallons of water per properly, LSU’s Carlson mentioned. Hypothetically, if a thousand wells were developed in the TMS and they all depended on the Southern Hills Aquifer, three to 10 billion gallons of ground water would be used, he said. As compared, the Baton Rouge Water Firm alone withdrew 20 billion gallon a year from the aquifer in 2010, he famous.

Helis Oil & Gasoline, which plans to drill in St. Tammany this summer season, says it will not depend on the Southern Hills Aquifer. “All water for the project can be obtained off premises from surface water ponds or commercial sources,” the company stated in a public assertion earlier this Falling-Film Evaporator month. “We will not be using water from the native aquifer in any means.” Helis last week didn’t respond brent crude oil chart nasdaq to a telephone inquiry about its water plans.

Final week, St. Tammany President Pat Brister stated Helis will drill down 13,000 toes for knowledge and samples and will analyze its findings over three to 4 months. If commercially viable portions of oil are found, Helis will conduct horizontal drilling and will frack to extract oil.

At Canada-based Encana Corp. which operates 18 producing wells within the Tuscaloosa Marine Shale play — including three in Louisiana and 15 in southwest Mississippi, the corporate depends on the Amite River and its East and West forks, together with personal floor water ponds for water. “As well as, Encana drills groundwater wells to supply the water needed for drilling,” Encana Services Co. spokesman Doug Hock in Colorado stated final week. “These are typically only 100 to 250 ft in depth,” and above Southern Hills Aquifer sands, typically beginning four hundred feet or extra below ground, he stated.

“Encana would usually never use a groundwater source that was an space’s primary source of drinking water for our needs,” Hock mentioned. And produced water or waste water from Encana’s TMS wells is disposed of in state-licensed, deep injection wells, below guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Safety Agency, he mentioned. The injection wells can be, however aren’t essentially, near drill websites.

When requested whether or not Encana is contemplating fracking in St. Tammany Parish, Hock mentioned the company’s efforts are targeted on Mississippi now. “Amite County is the place now we have nearly all of our activity,” he said.

At Houston-based Goodrich Petroleum Corp. which has wells producing within the TMS play, the company usually uses floor water from non-public lakes, streams or ponds, spokeswoman Kristie Buchanan said final week

Fracking corporations claim that drilling, when carried out properly, isn’t any menace to drinking water. However in late 2011, the EPA mentioned fluids used to drill for natural gas more than likely polluted an aquifer near Pavillion, Wyoming. Encana, which owns the oil and gas wells in question there, disagreed with these findings, and said the chemical compounds had been naturally occurring. The state of Wyoming is investigating the matter and plans to problem a report by late September.