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Monitoring Valve Health via the Internet

Monitoring Valve Health via the Internet

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Valves in Oxygen Service

Valves in Oxygen Service

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Thermal Spray Coating

Thermal Spray Coating

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Ball Valve Repair 101

Ball Valve Repair 101

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Industry Headlines

LyondellBasell to Build the World's Largest PO/TBA Plant

Friday, 21 July 2017  |  Chris Guy

LyondellBasell has made the final investment decision to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in the ...

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How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

How to Choose the Best Rapid Prototyping Method

Tuesday, 18 July 2017  |  Kate Kunkel

As new products are designed, including valve bodies and the parts that comprise the finished valve, prototypes must be created. How that is achieved ...

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Industry Headlines

Badger Alloys Joins VMA as Associate Member

4 DAYS AGO

This week the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) welcomes Badger Alloys as an official associate supplier member. This is VMA’s fourth new member in 2017.

Located in the heart of Milwaukee and founded in 1966, Badger Alloys offers single source capabilities for custom castings. The company pou...

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Thermodyn Joins VMA as Associate Member

4 DAYS AGO

This week the Valve Manufacturers Association (VMA) welcomes Thermodyn Corporation as an official associate supplier member. This is VMA's third new member in 2017.

In 1979, Thermodyn began business with the dual purpose of selling A.W. Chesterton products and manufacturing high-temperature elastomers ...

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LyondellBasell to Build the World's Largest PO/TBA Plant

1 DAY AGO

LyondellBasell has made the final investment decision to build the world's largest propylene oxide (PO) and tertiary butyl alcohol (TBA) plant in the Houston area. The project is estimated to cost approximately $2.4 billion, representing the single-largest capital investment in the company's history...

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EPA Selects Projects for Water Infrastructure Loans

2 DAYS AGO

The EPA is inviting 12 projects in nine states to apply for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) loans. These potential applicants were selected from a group of projects that represent large and small communities from across the U.S. that submitted letters of interest to EPA in Ap...

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Leading Economic Indicators Increased in June

1 DAY AGO

The Conference Board Leading Economic Index (LEI) for the U.S. increased 0.6% in June to 127.8 (2010 = 100), following a 0.2% increase in May, and a 0.2% increase in April.

“The U.S. LEI rose sharply in June, pointing to continued growth in the U.S. economy and perhaps even a moderate improvement...

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U.S. Jobless Claims Fall to Near Five-Month Low

1 DAY AGO

In the week ending July 15, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 233,000, a decrease of 15,000 from the previous week's revised level. The previous week's level was revised up by 1,000 from 247,000 to 248,000. The 4-week moving average was 243,750, a decrease of 2,250 from t...

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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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