Halliburton fined $1.8 million over illegal hydrochloric acid shipping and disposal

Halliburton fined $1.8 million over disposal, Company misstated amount of waste reported to state by Anya Litvak, February 18, 2014, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
In one of the largest penalties leveled against an oil and gas service company in Pennsylvania’s history, the Department of Environmental Protection fined Halliburton Energy Services $1.8 million for transporting, processing and disposing of hydrochloric acid without classifying it as a hazardous substance.

Over a period of 12 years, Halliburton didn’t keep records of how much acid it moved, making it difficult to account for all potential infractions, but the DEP counted 255 violations between 1999 and 2011.

Halliburton, the Houston-based energy service firm that helps oil and gas operators frack and cement wells, operated a facility in Homer City where it stored, among other things, unused hydrochloric acid hauled from well sites. The company would treat the acid with lime to neutralize it, according to DEP spokesman John Poister, and then would send the resulting liquid waste to other facilities. Mr. Poister said some acid was not properly neutralized and was sent to facilities that were not permitted to accept such waste. One of the recipients of the waste, formerly called Hart Resource Technologies in Creekside, helped the DEP recreate a timeline of waste that came from the Halliburton facility. In exchange for cooperating, Hart was not cited for accepting the waste.

Halliburton declined to answer questions on Tuesday. It issued a statement confirming it reached an agreement with the DEP and said it’s cooperating with the agency. “Halliburton joins with the department in observing that there is no evidence that these past practices resulted in harm to the public or the environment,” the statement said.

According to the DEP’s online records, solid waste inspections at the Indiana County facility began in 2009 and that year several violations were discovered, including unlawfully “dumping solid waste,” storing waste in a manner that doesn’t protect groundwater degradation and operating a disposal or processing facility without a permit.

The 2010 inspection found no violations and the 2011 visit cited the company for not labeling storage containers properly and not keeping records.

If the DEP were conducting an inspection of a larger operation, it would have asked for records and truck signage indicating proper labeling of hazardous waste. But Halliburton didn’t keep records and the DEP didn’t ask for them until it began its investigation. “That’s the regulatory conundrum,” Mr. Poister said. … “We don’t have eyes and ears in every company. The consequence of not following the regulations is exactly what happened. They get a big fine.”

The magnitude of fine and the fact that the DEP went back 12 years to look for violations is “outrageous,” said Ken Komoroski, and oil and gas attorney with Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP. Disagreements between the DEP and waste handlers aren’t uncommon, he said. Typically, when the agency disagrees over an exemption, the operator might agree to change record keeping requirements or pay a small fine. [Emphasis added]

[Report also to:

Halliburton Introduces Technology to Control Fracture Face Damage and Help Improve Production from Unconventional Reservoirs Press Release by Halliburton, September 25, 2006Business Wire
Halliburton’s (NYSE:HAL) Production Optimization Division has added a breakthrough technology to its suite of stimulation products, GasPerm 1000(SM) service. GasPerm 1000 service helps improve production from unconventional reservoirs including tight gas, shales and coalbed methane. Based on a newly developed microemulsion surfactant, the service helps remove water drawn into the formation during the fracturing process. Removing the water can improve permeability to gas at the fracture face and help increase gas production. In addition, GasPerm 1000 service represents a safety and environmental advancement, replacing methanol in many applications. “Halliburton has focused our top researchers on developing technology to help operators achieve better results from unconventional reservoirs and GasPerm 1000 service is the initial result of this research,” said Jim Prestidge, vice president within the Production Optimization Division. ”The characteristics of unconventional reservoirs pose unique challenges, particularly in the area of controlling fracture face damage.  GasPerm 1000 service technology was developed to help achieve maximum production following a fracturing treatment and with the focus on environmental sustainability, our constant guiding principle as we develop new chemicals.” …

In Canada, coalbed methane production is growing extremely fast. Production from gas shales, such as the Barnett formation, has shown exponential growth in the past five years. Fracturing will continue to play a major role in coaxing production from these reservoirs.

In the fracturing process, water can be drawn (imbibed) into the formation from the fluid used to create the fracture. The water drawn into the pore spaces is held there by capillary pressure and surface tension and can block gases from flowing into the wellbore.  Commonly called “water block,” this process is especially pronounced in unconventional gas reservoirs where the lower permeability results in
increased capillary pressure. GasPerm 1000 service has been shown to enable the imbibed liquids to be expelled from the rock matrix and fracture system, thereby enabling improved gas production.

From both an environmental and safety perspective, GasPerm 1000(tm) additive can be used in place of methanol. When run as an additive at field use concentration, the GasPerm 1000 additive reduces flammability risk as compared to methanol at concentrations typically used for water block treatment applications. A comparison test performed in an ultra-low perm tight gas sand formation from the Rockies demonstrated that under comparable conditions, the formulation containing GasPerm 1000 additive outperformed a conventional methanol-based formulation. GasPerm 1000 additive is compatible with both acidic and basic fluid systems and is used as an acidizing additive or fracturing fluid additive. [Emphasis added]

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