Global renewable energy capacity jumps in 2020, more needed to meet climate goals: experts

There is also the fear that new drilling and hydraulic fracturing activity — as well as the associated saltwater disposal wells — increasingly will interfere with and rupture older well sites, threatening air quality and water supplies often without any visible problems above the surface, said Virginia Palacios, executive director of the new Commission Shift group focused on reforming and better funding the Texas Railroad Commission that oversees state oil and gas regulations.

Spurred by the shale revolution and led by Texas, US oil production boomed from 5.5 million b/d in 2010 to a record high of nearly 13 million b/d at the beginning of 2020, although output has since slipped to about 11.3 million b/d. But that surge in growth has not come without cyclical stops and starts, including busts in 2014 and 2020 and the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and with each downturn came a wave of bankruptcies and consolidation.

“When these companies go bankrupt, we see more orphan wells going to the state to plug and clean up,” Palacios said. “There’s just ben a lot of activity out there in the Permian, and with that there’s an issue brewing in our state with waste management.”

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