Connect & Collaborate

Connect and Collaborate with ICOSA - Life Cycles of Oil and Gas

June 8, 2013

Icosa Magazine

Everything you ever wanted to know about Oil and Gas production and then some.

Here at ICOSA – we encourage everyone to be careful about forming opinions without studying all sides of an issue. It’s particularly true when it comes to oil and gas production. There’s just so much to know, most of which many Americans don’t know – that if we only follow the latest headlines and fast talkers, we’re guaranteed to be misinformed.

That’s why Connect & Collaborate with ICOSA Radio brings you in-depth interviews with people in-the-know. This week Jan Mazotti and co-host Kelly de la Torre talk with Lisa Roy, Land Negotiator with Encana Oil & Gas, USA. They’ll discuss the life cycle of oil and gas production, from obtaining rights to the land, to fracking procedures, to the impact on careers in the industry.

In this episode of C&C, we walk through each step of the science and technology of releasing these natural resources.
Starting with Geology. It’s very important to study and identify the rock. At this point, in the United states, most conventional plays have already been found and exploited.  Now we turn to  the unconventional shales and horizontal drilling to go further.

Roy explains the special complications around land acquisition, and meeting the state and federal regulations that lead up to drilling. Today there are still some basins where where drilling down 250 feet will hit oil (as Kelly de la Torre says, “Jed Clampett-style.” ), but in other areas, shale rock is so tightly compacted that it’s necessary to fracture the rock to extract it.

This is nothing new. Fracking techniques have been employed since the 1950s. Of course Roy acknowledges concerns about fracking, and assures us that 99.5 percent of fracking solutions is comprised of water and sand. The water is recycled and reused when possible.

People are genuinely concerned about what other chemicals or solvents are used in the fracking process, some of which may have proprietary qualities that raise questions. Roy says most of them are household products like surfactant, which is essentially dish soap, which lubricates the rock to help break it apart.

Another is reminiscent of the goo or “slime” that was sold as a children’s toy not so long ago… Roy explains, “An engineer was playing with this stuff and he said, “You know, we borrowed this from another industry.”"  Kelly de la Torre asks, “From Mattel?”  “No, McDonald’s.” responds Roy, “They use it as a thickener in their milkshakes.”

This is a good example of the proprietary information that causes skepticism among many Americans, but is no different than the products they consume themselves.  When it comes to proprietary, trade secret concerns, it’s often a matter of simple industry rather than environmentally dangerous elements.

Considering the tight government regulations surrounding every aspect of production, it would be hard for oil and gas companies to get away with anything shady.

“We have to monitor the air, and monitor the water. And the department of wildlife, we have to be sure we’re not too close to bird’s nests or sage grouse or a million other things. There are regulations that we can’t drill during certain times of the year. When it comes right down to it, there are so many things, sometimes it’s hard to find a time to drill the well.” explains Lisa Roy.

If you really want to understand the demands and risks of drilling for natural resources, this interview touches on every aspect of the drilling process. You’ll want to listen to the entire Connect & Collaborate program this Saturday at 10:00 AM on KNUS 710 – or download our podcast – you’ll find it at the top of this article.

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