At a green completion currently under way a few hours from Denver, Balderston points out a jumble of pipes, valves and tanks about the size of a UPS truck.However, no surprise, some industry groups are opposed to things that save money long term and are better for the environment:
"The whole flow of the whole well — gas, water, everything — comes in one pipe," Balderston says. The equipment separates the gas from the water and the solids. "Basically oil floats on the water and gas floats on all that. It pretty much separates itself out all on its own."
Once the natural gas is separated and collected, it goes into the pipeline system, where Balderston's company, Encana, can sell it. So gas that was previously burned in a flare or vented as waste is now profit.
Though there are costs associated with the equipment and people needed to run it, "the benefits far outweigh those costs in the long run," Balderston says.
But he says green completions and other recent improvements greatly reduce the industry's impact on the environment.
"You just can't begin to imagine how fast things have changed [in the industry], just in the last few years — to the good," he says. "All of us guys that work out here feel more comfortable in what we do now because of that. These changes are positive for all of us."
But even with the caveats, some companies still oppose the EPA's rules: They say states and not the federal government should get to decide whether rules like these are necessary.Yeah, just what I'd want, having backwater states like Alabama and Mississippi control the regulatory process. That'd turn out well.