November 2011

Lizard letter hits legislative dead end

November 10, 2011


Things have reached a legislative dead-end for opponents of the dunes sagebrush lizard’s endangered species listing.

“I’m not encouraged by where we are right now,” U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) said.

He said he and area representatives submitted a letter Nov. 1 urging the Appropriations Committee to adopt an amendment bringing a temporary halt to the listing process. But that may not come to pass.

“It’s an uphill battle,” Conaway said.

There is support for an amendment, but it is unlikely that the committee will have an opportunity to vote on it, Conaway said. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s final decision on the lizard is scheduled to be announced Dec. 14.

The letter, written by Conaway, and U.S. Representatives Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), Francisco Canseco (R-San Antonio) and Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), advised the Committee that a yearlong pause in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s regulatory action would allow additional scientific research to be conducted on the lizard.

Further research would prove that the listing is not warranted, Ben Shepperd of the Permian Basin Petroleum Association said in an email.

“The PBPA maintains the position that the listing of the (dunes sagebrush lizard) is not warranted due to a complete lack of any evidence of endangerment,” Shepperd said in an email.

The lizard has been a candidate for endangered species status since 2001, according to Odessa American records.

In the past, U.S. Fish and Wildlife said federal protection for the lizard was warranted, but its situation was precluded by species with a more urgent endangerment concern.

Then environmental group WildEarth Guardians stated that no animals had received protection under the Endangered Species Act in 2007 and informed U.S. Fish and Wildlife that they would sue the government for failing to enforce the Act, with the sagebrush lizard’s proposed listing coming subsequently.

While the extra year may not come to pass, Conaway encouraged West Texans to continue their own efforts at getting the issue out there.

For now, those in Washington D.C. are simply waiting for U. S. Fish and Wildlife’s verdict.

“We’ve run out of options at a legislative standpoint,” Conaway said.


City of Midland Prepared to Sue Over Lizard Listing

November 10, 2011

Nick Lawton

NewsWest 9

MIDLAND – A new pipeline project to the City of Midland’s well field at TBar Ranch in Winkler County could be on the chopping block, if the dunes sagebrush lizard is listed and the field is on its habitat.

If the lizard makes the list in December, and if the project is compromised, the Tall City could take legal action, suing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

“What we’ve heard, if that does come into play, that we won’t be able to build a water line to our TBar Ranch Field. That’s your worst case scenario,” City of Midland Mayor, Wes Perry, said. “So, we’re preparing, if that does happen, then we’re going to have to get more proactive about how do we protect our water supply.”

The pipeline project is set to cost $140 million and will bring in 20 million gallons of water a day.

Perry said while the city doesn’t intentionally want to destroy the lizard, the future of their water supply has to be protected and they will ask other cities to join them in the suit if it happens.

“We’ll talk to CRMWD. We’d love to have them as partners,” Perry said. “Abilene and San Angelo, we’re very close with them in developing a long-term, 100-year water plan.”

The cities of Odessa and Big Spring told NewsWest 9 they defer to the Colorado River Municipal Water District when it comes to a potential suit.

CRMWD Director John Grant told NewsWest 9 over the phone that the district has been hindered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the past.

When the O.H. Ivie reservoir was constructed back in the 1980s, the district had to follow rules to protect the concho water snake, which ended up costing the district $3 million and delaying the project two years.

Grant told NewsWest 9 at the moment the district is watching and waiting to see if the lizard makes a negative impact.

Despite the lizard listing still not official yet, that TBar Ranch pipeline project is officially in the works.

Perry told NewsWest 9 the proposal was sent out on Wednesday to have companies approach the city with their offers to build it and the deadline for that is around Thanksgiving.

Big 2 Energy Exclusive: “The Fracing Facts”, Part 2

November 4, 2011

Reported by: Mycah Glover

Thursday, November 03 2011

Midland – Hydraulic fracturing is a process that’s been under a lot of scrutiny here recently. But it’s been around for decades. The fact is that without it, oil wouldn’t be produced. All of this had me wanting to learn more. I followed Henry Resources and Pro-Petro to learn how the process works and to clear up any misunderstandings.

I started this series last week with the first step in the fracing process. It all begins in the office, where a team of geologists and engineers closely examine a log that’s obtained after the well has been drilled. They work together to identify intervals within the wellbore that they believe to be hydrocarbon productive. This is where they’ll set the perforations so the well can be fraced. Once these locations have been identified and their design is finalized, the frac job can begin.

For Henry Resources, a typical frac job lasts two days and begins with the frac crew setting up the equipment on location. Once everything is rigged up, tested, and ready to go, it’s time to turn the engineers’ red ink marks on the log into actual perforations.

They begin with the first stage which is the deepest in the well, and in this case, around 11,000 feet underground.

“There’s 40 explosive devices individually placed inside that steel container and then that fire shoots through the steel container into the casing and out into the formation,” says George Miles, Henry Resources frac specialist.

Next, it’s time to stimulate or “frac” stage one. But before the hydraulic fracturing process can begin, the crew concocts the perfect cocktail using a small amount of chemicals, a defined volume of water, and a very specific type of sand, which varies according to the depth of the stage.

“We pump the water from over there (frac pit near location) into the tanks on location,” says Miles.

Water is then pulled out of the tanks into a hydration unit where it’s mixed with gel. After that, the gelled water is mixed with some chemicals and sand in the blender.

“That truck (the blender) pushes the mixture into the high pressure units (also known as the pump trucks).The high pressure units then pump it down the well,” says Miles. And by high pressure, he means 30 barrels a minute. That’s 1,260 gallons every 60 seconds.

The speed, resultant pressure and gel-like formula help to fracture the formation, propagate the fracture away from the wellbore and connect any natural fractures that may exist.

The next task is keeping the fractures open.

“What you got going on here is the sand-laden phase where we start introducing the proppant into the fluid that’s going down the hole and what that does is help propagate the formation. Helps it stay propped open after we stimulate the well,” says Adam Munoz, Pro-Petro District Technical Mgr.

In the end, “the gel will break from the sand (and) return to a water phase. The sand will stay in place and allow that porosity to increase from the wellbore all the way out to the tip of the frac,” says Miles.

This allows the oil, gas, and water to flow freely to the wellbore where it can be pumped to the surface.

Keep in mind, all of that is only stage one.

At this point, a bridge plug is set between the zone that is now complete and the entire process repeats itself until each stage is fraced. For Henry Resources, it’s usually anywhere from nine to eleven stages.

When all the zones are complete, the frac crew rigs down and leaves and a pulling unit is brought in. It’s main purpose is to drill out all of the bridge plugs that were used during the frac and install the tubing, rods, and pump needed for production.

After this, a flow line is used to connect the well-head to the appropriate tank battery so the oil, gas, and water can be separated, stored, and eventually sold or disposed.

And with that, production can finally begin.

We’ll continue this special series next Friday by addressing some of the hotter topics associated with hydraulic fracturing. For example, a lot of concerns have been raised over the chemicals that are used, and some even say they fear their water supply is being contaminated. We’ll talk through all of these issues and more and kill a lot of rumors next Thursday at 10pm on Big 2 News.

Big 2 Energy Exclusive: “The Fracing Facts”, Part 1

November 4, 2011

Reported by: Mycah Glover

Friday, October 28 2011

This is the first of four reports that take a look at the hydraulic fracturing process, how it works, and how local companies are doing it in a safe and environmentally friendly way. Join Mycah Glover Thursday nights at 10pm for each report. To view part 1, click on the video.