Answers to Water Questions

Chevron-Poisons.jpgSome deep water questions with answers and analysis by attorney and Measure Z spokeman James Eggleston. 


Is there a timetable by which current extraction operations in the San Ardo field would have to treat untreated water?

Measure Z requires that toxic wastewater injection be phased out over a five year period, or by 2022. The oil industry can continue current methods of production (e.g., steam flooding, water flooding and cyclic steaming) in 2022 and thereafter as long as all of the toxic wastewater is treated and cleaned for beneficial use and not disposed of by reinjection.

What is the projected cost of that process and who would enforce implementation?

The toxic wastewater created by oil production in San Ardo has total dissolved solids (TDS) of 7,000 mg/L. (Chevron San Ardo Facility Unit (SAFU) Beneficial Produced Water Reuse for Irrigation (2014), p. 2) According to Parsons, the company that designed the San Ardo RO treatment facility, the cost of treating this wastewater is $.70 per barrel. (Oilfield Produced Water Management and Beneficial Reuse [Parsons] (p. 2) 

The San Ardo RO treatment facility already converts nearly 25% of produced wastewater to clean water suitable for agricultural use. The additional costs for treating all wastewater produced on a continuing basis would be $172,456 per day or $62.9 million per year. With the projected growth in oil prices per barrel and 4% annual increase in costs of production, adjusted for the additional costs of the 100% treatment option beginning in 2022 (increasing at annual rate of 4%), and assuming a continuing annual production of 7.8 million barrels, oil industry profits under Measure Z will increase substantially over the years. Based on the oil industry's projection of future oil prices and production cost increases, and adjusted for the additional costs of 100% wastewater treatment, total Monterey County oil producer profits under Measure Z for the period of 2016-2032 will be $1.6 billion.

Is it an accurate statement to say, "Measure Z does NOT ban oil production in Monterey County, but would create important water protection and safety measures designed to protect public health and safety as well as agricultural production in Monterey County. Measure Z allows for the continued operation of current steam and water injection processed wells while requiring a transition to treat contaminated water before re-injection into threatened aquifiers."

Yes. However, it is probably more accurate to say that Measure Z requires that after five years none of the toxic wastewater produced in oil and gas operations can be disposed of by reinjection -- thus requiring treatment and cleaning of 100% of the wastewater for beneficial use rather than disposal. Having so treated and cleaned 100% of the wastewater, there would be no reason for reinjection for disposal purposes, and far more economical to disperse the cleaned water into shallow agricultural aquifers.


What is the oil companies' rationale for using reverse osmosis to treat re-injected water in some of its wells (20%) and not others?  

Treatment of this amount of wastewater is necessary to “help depressurize the oil field so that it can be steam flooded” for continuing production (testimony of Chevron engineer Dallas Tubbs at July 12, 2016 Monterey County Board of Supervisors hearing). Thus, the current level of treatment is not a charitable community enterprise, but necessary for continuing oil production. 
The oil producers have proven that reverse osmosis technology is a reliable and successful means of treating and cleaning 25% of their produced wastewater for conversion to beneficial agricultural use. By requiring treatment and cleaning of 100% of the wastewater, Measure Z requires the oil companies to bear the expense of their own hazardous production methods and stop imposing this risk on the people of Monterey County. 
(See above: "Based on the oil industry's projection of future oil prices and production cost increases, and adjusted for the additional costs of 100% wastewater treatment, total Monterey County oil producer profits under Measure Z for the period of 2016-2032 will be $1.6 billion.")


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