California regulators on Thursday were set to take up offshore fracking after revelations that the practice had quietly occurred off the coast since the late 1990s. The California Coastal Commission added the issue at the last minute to its agenda during its monthly meeting.
Last week's blowout on a natural gas rig off the Louisiana coast could shift regulators' focus to shallow-water drilling and make an overhaul of safety equipment regulations more likely. The rig, owned by Hercules Offshore and operated under contract to Walter Gas & Oil, spewed gas July 23 that eventually ignited. The fire damaged the Hercules 265, which was within days of wrapping up its drilling contract.
Ford soon will offer a natural gas version of its F-150 pickup truck, the most popular vehicle in America. The company is the first Detroit automaker with that option in a light-duty pickup truck. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler already have natural gas-powered heavy-duty trucks.
A landmark federal study on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site. After a year of monitoring, the researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to free gas trapped deep below the surface stayed thousands of feet below the shallower areas that supply drinking water
Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012, according to the most recent U.S. energy charts released by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Natural gas use is up in the electricity generation sector, where it has basically substituted directly for coal, while sustained low natural gas prices have prompted a shift from coal to gas in the electricity generating sector.
Each year, the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory releases energy flow charts that track the nation's consumption of energy resources. According to the most recent charts, Americans used more natural gas, solar panels and wind turbines and less coal to generate electricity in 2012.
A research collaboration agreement has been formed between imaging company FEI and the University of Oklahoma to establish an oil and gas center of excellence. Called the FEI-OU Pore Scale Characterization Laboratory, the center will focus on the development of routine quantitative methods to classify shales in the economic assessment of tight oil and gas plays.
A number of utilities and consumer groups say they support proposed rules that would require Mississippi electric and gas utilities to implement programs to save energy. However, Mississippi Power Co. says it opposes the rules because bills could rise for customers who don't make homes or businesses more efficient. The Public Service Commission began considering energy-efficiency rules in early 2010.
Sandia National Laboratories and SRI International will join forces to explore, test and evaluate a broad range of hydrogen and natural gas fuel systems and components for transportation applications under a new agreement. The five-year memorandum of understanding is the first agreement in Sandia’s new Center for Infrastructure Research and Innovation, an alternative fuel research and innovation facility.
One of America's corporate giants is investing billions of dollars in the new boom of oil and gas drilling, or fracking. General Electric Co. is opening a new laboratory in Oklahoma, buying up related companies, and placing a big bet that cutting-edge science will improve profits for clients and reduce the environmental and health effects of the boom.
Hydraulic fracturing for natural gas hasn't contaminated drinking water wells in Arkansas, according to a new study, but researchers said the geology there may be more of a natural barrier to pollution than in other areas where shale gas drilling takes place.
Scientists sampling 127 shallow drinking water wells in areas overlying Fayetteville Shale gas production in north-central Arkansas found no evidence of groundwater contamination. The team of scientists at Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) analyzed the samples for major and trace elements and hydrocarbons, and used isotopic tracers to identify the sources of possible contaminants.
Most Michigan and Pennsylvania residents say fracking is good for the economy, but have concerns about chemicals used and other environmental risks, according to a University of Michigan survey. Fracking is the common term for hydraulic fracturing, which involves injecting a mixture of water, sand, and chemicals deep into the ground through encased wells at high pressure to create and expand fractures in the shale rock.
A domestic natural gas boom already has lowered U.S. energy prices while stoking fears of environmental disaster. Now U.S. producers are poised to ship vast quantities of gas overseas as energy companies seek permits for proposed export projects that could set off a renewed frenzy of fracking.
Chemical engineers have identified a new mechanism to convert natural gas into energy up to 70 times faster. The technique improves on chemical looping, in which a solid, oxygen-laden material—called an “oxygen carrier”—is put in contact with natural gas to cause combustion. The newly developed oxygen carrier shuttles oxygen atoms into the natural gas very efficiently.
Oil companies big and small have used technology to find a bounty of oil and natural gas so large that worries about running out have melted away. New imaging technologies let drillers find oil and gas trapped miles underground and undersea. The result is an abundance that has put the United States on track to become the world's largest producer of oil and gas in a few years.
The Environmental Protection Agency has dramatically lowered its estimate of how much of a potent heat-trapping gas leaks during natural gas production. This shift has major implications for a debate that has divided environmentalists, which is whether the recent boom in fracking helps or hurts the fight against climate change.
Natural gas power plants can use about 20% less fuel when the sun is shining by injecting solar energy into natural gas with a new system being developed by the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The system converts natural gas and sunlight into a more energy-rich fuel called syngas, which power plants can burn to make electricity.
GE and Lufkin Industries Inc. announced this week a joint agreement whereby GE will acquire Lufkin Industries Inc., a leading provider of artificial lift technologies for the oil and gas industry and a manufacturer of industrial gears, for approximately $3.3 billion. The move accelerates GE’s growth in artificial lift with solutions for a wider variety of well types.
Tougher EPA air-quality standards could spur an increased shift away from coal and toward natural gas for electricity generation, according to a new Duke University study. Complying with stricter regulations on sulfur dioxide, particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, and mercury may make nearly two-thirds of the nation's coal-fired power plants as expensive to run as plants powered by natural gas. The regulations would make 65% of U.S. coal plants as expensive as natural gas, even if gas prices rise significantly.
The biological sources of methane are wide-ranging. However, the conditions have to be always oxygen-free and the exact mechanism has been unclear. A team of researchers in Germany has gained insight into microbiological methane production by explaining the structure of a hydrogenase used by archaebacteria to split hydrogen to produce methane
Hydraulic fracturing may soon be approved for the state of New York. However, a new study finds that it is technically and economically feasible to convert New York's all-purpose energy infrastructure to one powered by wind, water, and sunlight. The authors say that overall switch would reduce New York's end-use power demand by about 37% and stabilize energy prices.
The Fischer-Tropsch process is used for producing fuels from synthesis gas, which in turn is made from natural gas, biomass, or coal. Large reserves of shale or natural gas now changing the world energy market have raised interest in this technology, but prior reactors have been too bulky. Inspired by patents from the 1960s audio cassette recording industry, University of Amsterdam chemists have recently developed a new Fischer-Tropsch catalyst that is significantly cheaper and more scalable.
Increased natural gas production is seen as a crucial step away from the greenhouse gas emissions of coal plants and toward U.S. energy independence. But natural gas wells have problems: Large volumes of deep water, often heavily laden with salts and minerals, flow out along with the gas. That so-called “produced water” must be disposed of, or cleaned. Now, a process developed by engineers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology could solve the problem and produce clean water at relatively low cost.
The oil and gas industry is trying to ease environmental concerns by developing nontoxic fluids for the drilling process known as fracking, but it's not clear whether the new product will be widely embraced by drilling companies. Houston-based energy giant Halliburton Inc. has developed a product called CleanStim, which uses only food-industry ingredients. Other companies have developed nontoxic fluids as well.