Skip to comments.North Dakota oil spill cleanup slowed by lack of natural gas
Posted on 09/10/2015 5:02:14 AM PDT by thackney
The cleanup of a massive 2013 oil spill in northwestern North Dakota is being hampered by a lack of natural gas needed to power special equipment that cooks hydrocarbons from crude-soaked soil, a state regulator said.
Crews have been working around-the-clock to deal with the Tesoro Corp. pipeline break that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil into a Tioga wheat field two years ago this month.
Bill Suess, an environmental scientist with the state Health Department, said Wednesday that workers will be at the site at least another two years baking oil from the soil using a process called thermal desorption, which involves excavating contaminated soil and heating it before putting it back in place.
Workers are trying to bring a second thermal desorption machine online but there is not enough natural gas available commercially in the area to power it, Suess said. A pipeline that feeds the primary unit does not have enough pressure to run a second unit that vaporizes contaminants through heat and pressure, he said.
The biggest issue is there is not enough gas to run a second thermal desorption unit, he said, calling it an irony due to the high amount of natural gas in the region that is being burned off as a byproduct of oil production.
(Excerpt) Read more at fuelfix.com ...
Isn’t this basically a portable kiln ?
North Dakota’s oil and gas industry not expected to meet next flaring goal, seeks delay
Aug 26, 2015
orth Dakotas oil and gas industry and the states top oil regulator are asking a panel to delay the next goal for reducing the flaring of natural gas, citing unforeseen circumstances including a glut of cheap gas, stalled infrastructure projects and difficulty obtaining permits and right-of-way for pipelines.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who chairs the three-member panel, said he wants documentation of the events that Department of Mineral Resources Director Lynn Helms said will make it almost impossible for operators to meet the gas capture goal when it increases from 77 percent to 85 percent on Jan. 1.
Otherwise we just lose all credibility with this, Dalrymple said. So lets get that down in black-and-white first, and then if you want to start talking to them about a revised timetable, thats OK. Im not sure what Im willing to do there.
The commission adopted the goals in March 2014 under mounting public pressure and fading tolerance of flaring from western North Dakota residents and mineral rights owners. Operators had to submit gas capture plans with all drilling permit applications starting June 1, 2014.
The initial capture goal of 74 percent increased to 77 percent this year and will jump to 85 percent on Jan. 1. The final goal is 90 percent by October 2020.
An industry task force that proposed the goals is now asking the commission to extend the 85 percent target for two additional construction seasons, to Oct. 1, 2017. Helms recommended meeting the industry partway and extending it one season to Oct. 1, 2016.
The task force also recommended allowing operators who exceed the goal in a given month to bank their capture and get credit for it during problem months when they would otherwise fall short. Helms recommended allowing operators to bank three months of capture that could be applied to a problem month.
Some operators have already had trouble meeting the goals. The commission has granted exceptions to the policy for more than 150 oil and gas wells since April.
Certainly sounds like it.
I wonder if a private company that precipitated such a disaster would be allowed to simply cook the pollution out into the atmosphere.
I'm certain that "a lack of natural gas" would go nowhere as an excuse as far as the EPA was concerned, if the shoe was on the other foot.
No propane in ND ?
In the late 70’s, early 80’s I worked the oil patch in Chevron field of ND’s Renville county. There was a crude oil spill. We went out to contain it.
The spill was on prime farmland. The rich black topsoil was just soaked. With the land owner present, someone asked the boss how he planned on cleaning it up. His reply was it will just disappear.
I thought he was lying. The next year it did just disappear. I suspect the soil must have had some traces left, but the soil did grow crops after the spill without any special treatment done to the soil.
Low info voters have never heard this.
Some info I found:
Thermal desorption is an ex-situ treatment technology that utilizes heat to increase the volatility of contaminants such that they can be removed from a solid matrix: typically, soil, sludge, filter cake, or drill cuttings. Desorbers are designed as a separation technology to remove organic compounds from such matrices without thermally destroying them. The volatilized contaminants are then either collected or thermally destroyed in secondary treatment units. A thermal desorption system therefore has two major components; the desorber itself and the off-gas treatment system.
Thermal desorption is a thermal soil remediation technique that has been utilized at several hundred environmental remediation projects world wide. As a mature technology, thermal soil remediation performance can be predicted with a high degree of confidence.
Two Basic Designs
Thermal desorption systems can be stationary facilities or mobile units and are comprised of two general categories: Direct-Fired, and Indirect-Fired. There are significant differences between direct and indirect fired units, and many variations of each type. Determining the best suited unit for a particular application requires an understanding the characteristics of the material to be treated and the applicable regulatory requirements.
I recall seeing what looked like a small cement kiln being assembled at a former tank farm site.
North Dakota, not the feds.
If you only cook the soil, you will kill the soil, making topsoil no different than deeper fill, IIRC.
After a thorough burning, the soil at the tank farm supported lawn grass. It may have been transported in via rolls of turf.
There are apartment buildings on the site today.
You can get grass to grow on clean fill. It won’t grow as fast or as “healthy” as if it started on top soil. No bid deal in the long run for lawn grass.
If I was a farmer growing crops, I would more value topsoil. It will make a difference for production, as least for a few seasons.
Back in coal mining days, I always encouraged the scraper operator to look for the blackest topsoil, usually in the downhill side of the cuts. The topsoil was redistributed after the spoil piles were knocked down and yellow clay graded into terraces.
Sulfate reducing bacteria; they’re literally everywhere and they never sleep.
During the BP Gulf oil spill, many thought it foolish to use dispersant to “control” the spill. They should have allowed the oil to migrate to the surface, into warmer water, where these microorganisms would have essentially devoured any oil not recovered by the skimmers.
Your story reminds me of how amazing and efficient these little critters truly are. There’s a good chance the disappearance you saw was at least in part due to SRBs.