EIA: Benefits of Mexico Oil Swap

Will This Help Reduce Sulpher Emissions?
Oil Swap

Oil Swap

The EIA is reporting that oil swaps with Mexico will bring economic and environmental benefits to both countries.

Related: Swapping Oil with Mexico 

Last month, the U.S. Department of Commerce opened the door for a limited amount of oil to be exported to Mexico through an exchange program that will allow the U.S. to ‘swap’ its light sweet crude for Mexican heavy sour crude.

Light sweet refers to crude with a sulpher content of less than 0.42%. Currently, U.S. Gulf Coast refineries are better suited to process heavy sour crude and Mexican refineries are more equipped to process lighter crude. The swap will allow the two countries to optimize their existing refining processes and increase the supply of lower-sulfur gasoline from Mexican refineries.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report last week saying that there may be significant environmental benefits from such oil exchanges.

The partial substitution of Eagle Ford crude for Mexican crudes in Mexican refineries would free up sulfur removal capacity in the Mexican refining system. This would, in turn, allow that capacity to be used to produce more lower-sulfur gasoline than is currently possible. Any increased supply of lower-sulfur gasoline to Mexico’s motor gasoline market, which consumed 761,000 b/d in 2013, would result in reduced sulfur emissions and other environmental benefits.

Currently, U.S. Gulf Coast refineries are better suited to process heavy sour crude and Mexican refineries are more equipped to process heavier crude.

Many are hoping this new policy signifies a shift in opinion about the oil export ban that has been in effect since the 1970’s, but some analysts believe the effort may be mostly symbolic. Read more: Mexico Oil Swap Not Significant


Researchers Gather Data in Texas Skies

NOAA Measures Eagle Ford Shale Emissions
NOAA Studies Eagle Ford Emissions

NOAA Studies Eagle Ford Emissions

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are flying over the Texas oil and gas fields to gather data to measure air pollution in the Eagle Ford.

Related: Eagle Ford Study Shows Significant Increase in Pollution Through 2018

The research in Texas is  part of a larger project that includes over 15 research flights out of Colorado and Texas between March and May to measure air pollution from America’s biggest shale fields. The project tracks things like the excessive production of ozone and methane, a greenhouse gas far more potent than even carbon dioxide.

A nationwide study published in early April showed that methane emissions across the United States have dropped significantly in the past two decades and are much lower than current Environmental Protection Agency  estimates. But the scientists from NOAA are focused on understanding the variability between the leaks from one field to another. Lead research, Joost de Gouw cites many factors that cause a variability, such as what is being pumped from the ground, the techniques, equipment and the amount of regulation in each state.

Related: Methane Emissions Drop | Bakken Shale

“Lead researcher, Joost de Gouw said methane emissions are of particular interest. Natural gas, he said, is mostly methane. Although carbon dioxide is more abundant in the atmosphere, when compared molecule to molecule, methane is a more potent greenhouse gas.”

The research takes place high above the ground in “Miss Piggy”, an airplane that has been customized as a flying lab. Once airborne, teams in the air and on the ground measure readings upwind and downwind of oil and gas activity. The researchers are using aircraft equipped with chemical instruments, and say that once their data is collected, it will take more than a year to synthesize.

Read more at npr.org

Eagle Ford Air Quality to be Monitored – TCEQ

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has plans to monitor emissions levels related to the Eagle Ford Shale. The commission will place monitors in 24-Eagle Ford counties. This comes as no surprise as San Antonio is already close to reaching nonattainment. That means San Antonio is close to not meeting EPA standards for emissions. Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston are the only two areas in Texas considered nonattainment areas.

If the Eagle Ford development adds significant emissions in the San Antonio metropolitan area, it’s not likely the city will stay in compliance with federal standards. With monitors in place, we should know relatively soon. Natural Gas and oil production do not directly contribute to higher emissions levels, but truck traffic and remote power sources do. The use of both will decrease as adequate pipeline infrastructure comes online and as electric utilities bring power to the more remote areas of drilling.  [Read more…]