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Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

Achieving Predictable Valve Performance for Safety Applications

A focus on having the proper specificati...

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Putting Servo Valves Back to Work

Industries as varied as paper production...

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

Corrosion and Fouling: Is There a Solution?

According to a 1998 study released by the ...

Valves with All the Trimmings

Valves with All the Trimmings

The term valve trim has been around for ...

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Industry Headlines

IHS Markit Manufacturing Index Rose in February

Thursday, 22 February 2018  |  Chris Guy

U.S. manufacturers reported a strong upturn in business conditions during February, which continued the positive trend seen at the start of 2018. At 5...

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Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Valve Positioners Offer Improved Control Valve Performance

Monday, 19 February 2018  |  David Matherly

From time to time, we are re-posting well-received or particularly valuable articles that have previously run on VALVEMagazine.com so that those who m...

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Industry Headlines

MRC Global Announces Fourth Quarter 2017 Results

17 HOURS AGO

MRC Global’s sales were $903 million for the fourth quarter of 2017, which was 26% higher than the fourth quarter of 2016 and 6% lower than the third quarter of 2017 due to seasonality. As compared to 2016, all sectors increased driven primarily by midstream and upstream.

MRC Global's fourth qu...

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Curtiss-Wright Acquires Dresser-Rand Government Business

1 DAY AGO

Curtiss-Wright has entered into an agreement to acquire the assets that comprise the Dresser-Rand Government Business (Dresser-Rand), a business unit of Siemens Government Technologies, for $212.5 million in cash.

Dresser-Rand designs and manufactures mission-critical, high-speed rotating equipment sol...

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U.S. Refiners Increasingly Turning to Export Markets

20 HOURS AGO

“U.S. gasoline consumption has leveled off as the stimulus provided by low and falling oil prices between 2014 and 2016 has faded, so refiners are increasingly turning to diesel and customers in emerging markets,” Reuters  reports .

“In geographical terms, the fastest growth in co...

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$900M Power Plant Planned for Indiana

20 HOURS AGO

Vectren Energy Delivery of Indiana is proposing to install an additional 50 megawatts (MW) of universal solar and build an 800 to 900-MW natural gas-fired generation facility in addition to other critical investments that will significantly change the way the company generates power for the region .

Th...

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IHS Markit Manufacturing Index Rose in February

-1 DAYS AGO

U.S. manufacturers reported a strong upturn in business conditions during February, which continued the positive trend seen at the start of 2018. At 55.9, up from 55.5 in January, the seasonally adjusted IHS Markit Flash U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) pointed to the fastes...

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Survey Finds Surge in Confidence of Small Business Owners

21 HOURS AGO

CNBC and SurveyMonkey recently announced the results of their quarterly Small Business Survey. According to the findings, 47% percent of small-business owners say overall business conditions are good , up from 44% in the fourth quarter of 2017. Also, 32% of small business owners expect to increase the...

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The Quest for Unconventional Gas Sources

vmspr12_gas_shaleThe Barnett Shale petroleum drilling site located in North Central Texas.The increasing focus on finding ways to depend less on foreign energy sources, coupled with the huge shale plays now available to U.S. and Canadian energy producers, is good news for the valve industry. However, with gas prices at near-record lows and lingering questions about the environmental impact of fracturing, challenges lie ahead.

The recent increase in shale gas production in the U.S. and ­Canada, made possible largely by technological advances, has meant access to reserves nearly impossible to tap a mere five years ago. For energy producers, as well as valve, actuator and control manufacturers and distributors, this access creates potential for profitable exploration. For consumers, it means a relatively inexpensive source of clean energy not subject to the whims and vagaries of politically unstable countries.

Still, while low natural gas prices are a boon to consumers and utilities, those lower prices have created a real challenge to producers over the past year. As of mid-February 2012, prices were hovering around $2.50 per thousand cubic feet, necessitating cutbacks in the Marcellus shale area and making it less viable to drill in more remote locations like Haynesville and Barnett. Several companies have recently announced intentions to either reduce the number of new wells drilled or reduce production at operating wells.

However, prices that go down will eventually come up, and with them, production rates will rise. In the meantime, unconventional natural gas producers and those who supply the industry continue to develop more efficient exploration and production methods, engineer more robust materials and implement special practices that balance economic viability with environmental responsibility.


THE CHALLENGES

So what challenges does this lucrative industry face?


Economics and Water Use

Mike Romano, global market manager, Unconventional Oil and Gas, Tyco Flow Control, says that the recent drop in gas prices is one of the most significant challenges to unconventional gas production today.

He points to the decoupling of gas from oil prices.

“Spot prices have dropped from around $12 per million British Thermal Units (BTU) in 2008. Now they’re at $2.50. Oil went down from $130 to $70 per barrel, but came back up to $100. Before, when gas or oil prices went up, the other followed, but when shale gas came into play, the prices started going in different directions.”

Why did this happen? Romano says because of lower demand caused by the financial crisis compounded by dramatic growth of gas production through new technologies.

Another challenge to the industry today is water management. Hydraulic fracturing for a typical horizontal shale gas well takes about 4.5 million gallons of water. Detractors of fracturing have accused producers of depleting the drinking water table even though companies such as Chesapeake and Encana have made it a practice to steer away from potable water use. In addition to using untreated water from rivers, creeks, lakes and groundwater, they use discharge water from industrial or city wastewater treatment plants. The fracturing industry also has adopted the practice of reusing frac water to lower consumption of new sources.

While the overall mix of water sources depends on the region, the costs associated with transporting water in and out of a site can be as much as $1 per barrel, a sizeable incentive to reduce water use and recycle whenever possible.

In addition to the water source controversy, the fluid used in the fracing process, which is comprised of water, sand and some chemicals, must be extracted from the well and either recycled or disposed of through proper channels. Surface water discharges of this flowback are regulated by the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which requires flowback to be treated before discharge into surface water or underground injection be treated before its discharge. Underground injection of flowback is regulated by either EPA’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) program or a state with primary UIC enforcement authority.

The problem was compounded recently when increased underground injection of frac wastewater was blamed for causing earthquakes near Youngstown, OH. Environmentalists used what happened to call for broader federal regulation and drilling mora­toriums. What effect this will have on continued development is yet to be seen.


Public perception

vmspr12_gas_butterfly_valvesButterfly valves in the field

In a recent interview on ValveMagazine.com, Chris Tucker, team lead, Energy in Depth (EID), pointed out that public perception is a major challenge facing the shale gas industry. [EID is a research, education and public outreach campaign launched by the Independent Petroleum Association of America in 2009. Tucker was interviewed for an article posted Feb. 9, 2012].

While valve manufacturers, producers and pipeline operators seek ways to reduce emissions, improve safety and reduce the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing and natural gas transport, opponents have gone to great lengths to malign these efforts. EID addresses this issue through media education and public outreach programs, but negative publicity remains a constant battle.

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