For many oil and gas waste processing and disposal facilities, and water midstream facilities, groundwater monitoring is mandatory. The ongoing quarterly monitoring well sampling is a long-term operating expense that presents opportunities for cost reduction by employing new sampling technologies that reduce labor time and cost.
Conventional monitoring well sampling traditionally requires bulky and expensive pumps and support equipment. Time-consuming to use, these also require specialized training and are prone to mechanical failure in oil basin extreme weather conditions. Straightforward, lower-tech methods are available that can substantially lower field costs; in some cases, by up to 50 percent.
If your sampling results indicate potential problems, we recommend bringing in groundwater analytic expertise; this is where you want to concentrate your environmental compliance resources.
It is essential to conduct one or more background sampling events before a facility opening to interpret sampling results that may reveal facility issues. At SCS, we’ve seen many documented cases of facilities that unknowingly were operating over groundwater already contaminated by other nearby facilities or tainted by naturally occurring petroleum in the subsurface.
Another cost-reduction best practice is the application of statistical analysis to the lab results. While not always required by regulators, there are well-proven analytical tools that can answer questions about the source of apparent anomalies in the data. Ongoing application of these tools—even if only done internally—can reveal problems early and solve others before they become a liability.
About the Author: James Lawrence of SCS Engineers is a hydrogeologist with 25 years of experience in all aspects of the distribution and movement of groundwater in the southwestern and central portions of the U.S. Jim leads the groundwater monitoring program for SCS in the Permian Basin area. He works to resolve problems that arise with groundwater monitoring, including assessment monitoring, corrective action, landfill and natural gases, and alternate source demonstration issues.
His responsibilities include supervising the sampling, data reporting, and statistical analysis. His job experience includes extensive permitting-related hydrogeological characterizations, the design and implementation of groundwater monitoring systems, assessing groundwater geochemistry, soil and groundwater assessment investigations, risk reduction rules, groundwater modeling, design and implementation of numerous large dewatering systems, design of water supply wells, managing waste injection wells, managing CERCLA and RCRA investigations, and waste analysis/characterization programs.