FORT DAVIS, Texas — The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory has collaborated with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory’s research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.
“This partnership of PBPA and TXOGA with McDonald Observatory to protect dark skies in its vicinity is vital to the research of the universe taking place at McDonald,” said Taft Armandroff, director of the observatory.
The collaboration’s Recommended Lighting Practices document details best lighting practices for drilling rigs and other oilfield structures, including what types of lighting work best and how to reduce glare and improve visibility. These practices will increase the amount of light shining down on worksites, thus increasing safety while decreasing the amount of light pollution in the sky. Reducing excess light helps the observatory and also decreases electricity costs for the oil and gas producers.
The document specifically targets oil and gas operations in the seven counties with existing outdoor lighting ordinances surrounding the McDonald Observatory: Brewster, Culberson, Hudspeth, Jeff Davis, Pecos, Presidio and Reeves. However, the recommendations can be beneficial across the industry.
A new video that helps to introduce the recommendations to oil and gas companies is now available. It features the observatory’s Bill Wren explaining the importance of dark skies, and how lighting practices can both preserve dark skies and improve safety for oilfield workers. The video was produced with the support of the Apache Corporation, following the company’s extensive collaboration with observatory staff and implementation of these practices with their assets in the area. It is available to watch and share at: https://youtu.be/UnmwnO6CIR4
“For years, the PBPA and the McDonald Observatory have worked together on educating members of the Permian Basin oil and gas community about the Dark Skies Initiative and the possible impact lighting practices can have on the observatory’s work,” said PBPA President Ben Shepperd. “About two years ago, the PBPA board of directors agreed to support the creation of lighting recommendations. We decided a great way to educate members of the industry on how they could provide a positive impact on this issue was through the utilization of such recommended practices.
“So we began work with the observatory to publish recommended lighting practices and have since worked to educate our members and those outside the oil and gas industry on the recommendations through presentations, seminars, articles in magazines and newspapers, and even one-on-one conversations,” Shepperd said.
Recently, the Texas Oil and Gas Association joined the collaboration.
“The Texas Oil and Gas Association recognizes that production practices and protecting the environment are in no way mutually exclusive,” TXOGA President Todd Staples said. “The Recommended Lighting Practices collaborative effort allows for the oil and natural gas industry to continue the work vital to our economy and our future, and for the simultaneous reduction to our ecological footprint.”
In April, the observatory’s Dark Skies Initiative was named one of six Texan by Nature Conservation Wrangler projects for 2018. Texan by Nature, a Texas-led conservation nonprofit founded by former first lady Laura Bush, brings business and conservation together through select programs that engage Texans in the stewardship of land and communities.
The award will provide the observatory connections to technical expertise, industry support, publicity, and more for its Dark Skies Initiative.
“Our Conservation Wrangler program recognizes innovative and transformative conservation projects across the state of Texas,” said Joni Carswell, the organization’s executive director. “Each Conservation Wrangler project positively impacts people, prosperity and natural resources.”
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Rebecca Johnson, Communications Manager
The University of Texas at Austin
Stephen Robertson, Executive VP
Permian Basin Petroleum Association
Kate Zaykowski, Communications Director
Texas Oil and Gas Association
Taylor Keys, Program Manager
Texan by Nature
Castlen Kennedy, VP of Public Affairs
Siemens and Southern Idaho Solid Waste announce the commissioning of landfill gas-to-energy project
Siemens gas engines generating electrical power from landfill gas to provide energy for approximately 2,000 homes in Idaho
Two engines convert 1,000 tons of landfill waste daily into energy
The project marks successful use of Siemens’ highly-energy-efficient engines to capture and use methane
Siemens and Southern Idaho Solid Waste (SISW) recently announced the successful commissioning of two SGE-56HM gas engines that are providing environmentally friendly electrical power for a landfill gas-to-energy project at the Milner Butte Landfill in Burley, Idaho. Siemens’ gas capture engines are helping to convert 1,000 tons of landfill waste daily into energy but SISW officials expect that amount to increase in the near future.
Decomposing waste gives off massive amounts of greenhouse gases, especially methane. SISW engineers worked with Siemens and Siemens’ channel partner, Industrial-Irrigation Services, to develop a solution that would capture the methane for use as a fuel gas to produce electricity. “We saw this gas and realized we were just wasting it by burning it for no productive use,” said SISW’s environmental manager, Nate Francisco.
To capture methane and convert it into electricity, the Milner Butte Landfill deployed two Siemens SGE-56HM gas generator sets to run on the waste gas from the landfill and generate electrical power. Once the landfill gas is converted to electricity, it is transported to Idaho Power through a 20-year purchase agreement and is used by the community as a low-cost source of power. To date, the two engines have been generating enough power for approximately 2,000 homes. Each set is rated at
1,300kWe and includes generator controls and a power panel.
Siemens SGE-HM series is purpose-built for landfill gas-to-energy power applications. By incorporating advanced technology and design into the cylinder heads, valves, camshafts, and turbochargers, the SGE-56HM engine provides customers like SISW with a high-performing low-operating-cost solution.
“We expect these engines to remain in operation for 20 to 30 years,” said Josh Bartlome, executive director at SISW. “They’re big engines built for endurance.”
SISW estimates that within the next 20 years the facility will generate approximately $36 million in revenue, netting about a third of that after costs and inflation. Creating a long-term revenue generator like this model used by SISW will allow the District to realize lower power costs.
“The Milner Butte Landfill project represents the future of distributed power,” said Chris Nagle, North American Regional Director for Siemens Gas Engines business. “This plant assists the local community with its power needs while being environmentally responsible. Siemens is proud to support SISW and Industrial-Irrigation Services with this project.”
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The Crude Life Interview: Bill Wren, The University of Texas at Austin
Bill Wren, The University of Texas at Austin, explains how The University of Texas at Austin’s McDonald Observatory and the collaboration with the Permian Basin Petroleum Association (PBPA) and the Texas Oil and Gas Association (TXOGA) to reduce light shining into the sky from drilling rigs and related activities in West Texas. The excess light has the potential to drown out the light from stars and galaxies and threatens to reduce the effectiveness of the observatory’s research telescopes to study the mysteries of the universe.
Learn how ORLEN Upstream, the largest fuel, and energy company in Central Eastern Europe, was able to achieve operational benefits and high QHSE standards by using TenarisHydril Dopeless® technology during their operations in Poland.
A clean, reliable power supply is critical for offshore oil and gas assets.
Siemens is now applying its extensive electrification experience in the marine industry to offshore oil and gas, with a focus on reducing emissions and risk in particularly unforgiving operational environments. The company’s advanced lithium-ion battery-based solution, known as BlueVault™, is suited for both all-electric and hybrid energy-storage applications. BlueVault energy storage solutions are designed to help ensure continuity of power and to minimize carbon dioxide emissions, with an end goal of a low-emissions platform. The battery is designed to maximize life, performance and safety.
Since 2013, Siemens has been supplying the marine industry with an innovative Diesel-Electric Propulsion (DEP) system, BlueDrive PlusC, designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fuel consumption and maintenance costs when compared to traditional diesel-electric propulsion systems.
The company already has a track record of developing cost- and emission-reducing solutions for marine applications. In 2015, Siemens jointly developed the world’s first electric car ferry, Ampere, with Fjellstrand shipyard and ship-owner, Norled. Today, the Ampere ferry’s zero-emission propulsion solution has no direct or indirect emissions, because the batteries are recharged using hydro-electric power. The all-electric ferry weighs approximately half that of a regular car ferry due to the aluminum hull, and uses only 150 kWh of renewable energy per crossing which eliminates emissions and reduces fuel costs by 60 percent.
Pursuant to its research and development efforts and experience with harsh offshore operating environments, the company will open a fully robotized and digitalized plant in Norway that will develop and manufacture energy storage technologies for both marine and offshore oil and gas applications. The same battery storage solutions for marine and offshore environments are also applicable to offshore wind farms. In the longer term, Siemens hopes to leverage its expertise to develop a low-emissions offshore platform.
“Energy storage solutions provide a means to establish a stable, reliable electrical network by buffering intermittency and providing clean, dispatchable power,” said Terje Krogh, CEO of Siemens Offshore Solutions. “The Ampere ferry, which is entirely emission-free, serves as an example of how an energy storage system could also be successfully applied in an oil and gas environment.”
Siemens has already signed several contracts for its new energy storage system and expects to deliver the first one this summer.