Negative news draws the attention, but there are a lot of great stories that deserve to be told.
The oil and gas industry has become a magnet for criticisms spanning the gamut from greenhouse gases and climate change to the battle for energy independence and the treatment of federal lands. But while electric cars and wind farms may be more prevalent than they were a decade ago, people aren’t readily volunteering to go without gas and oil and all the other petroleum-based products that fill their lives.
Still, there is animosity toward the industry. Fracking has taken on a life of its own, with heated debate over everything from the water volumes required, to the potential for pollution and even earthquakes. Seldom is there much talk about the rapidly developing technology to limit the water required, or using other fluids altogether. You also don’t hear much outside the industry about new methods of treating the produced water, which could eliminate the need to store large volumes of the sometimes-toxic fluid.
The Canadian oil sands are another hot topic. There is great concern from some over the level of greenhouse gases produced by the extraction and processing of the heavy bitumen. The volume of water being diverted from northern Alberta’s Athabasca River basin is another concern, as is the scarred landscape the operations leave behind. But outside some local news outlets, you don’t hear much about successful remediation efforts, or the impacts on the local economies, or the money these large companies have poured into local community facilities and programs. These are all positives that should be recognized.
Of course, development of the oil sands inevitably leads to the Keystone XL pipeline, which has drawn intense criticism for the potential risks it poses along with many other factors. The job-creation potential of this project is often cited by proponents, but there are lots of ways to create jobs that aren’t necessarily safe or responsible, and the argument really disregards the primary concern of safety. Instead, a light should be cast on the advances in pipeline security, in monitoring capabilities and protective systems that increase the resistance to ruptures. Again, these are the positive stories that need to be told, and they carry more weight than the promise of temporary construction jobs.
Environmentalists have plenty of easy targets within the oil and gas industry, and it would seem high time the industry take it upon themselves not to lobby for more lax regulations or campaign for their high-dollar projects, but to demonstrate that these efforts are important and can be undertaken safely.
This magazine features countless stories of contractors who are doing their part to making drilling and mining safer and more efficient. Stories about new ways to capture gases rather than flaring them, new techniques for remediating contaminated soil and new technologies for increasing safety across the board. These are the stories that need to be told, that show the other side of the industry that few can comprehend from the nightly news stories about tanker spills and contaminated drinking wells.
Help us tell these stories. I’m always interested in hearing about oilfield service providers who are going above and beyond and making the business better. It’s an important part of this industry and our future. You can email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy this month’s issue.