Houston company partners on well pad restoration project in the Permian Basin
Apache Corp. and the Borderlands Research Institute (BRI) at Sul Ross State University in Alpine, Texas, have partnered to launch a well pad restoration research project.
Researchers at BRI and Texas Native Seeds will investigate methods to improve habitat restoration efforts in the Permian Basin. The goal is to publish a scientific best practices reclamation document for the Permian operators. Texas Native Seeds is a project of the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M Kingsville. BRI works mostly in the frontier of Texas and throughout the Southwest.
The BRI project aims to inform oil and gas industries in the Permian about how changes in the industry’s collaborative approach to restoring end-of-service well pads can benefit local biodiversity and reunite fragmented habitats.
At end of a well’s service life, when the well is plugged, equipment is removed, and the pad is reseeded, which allows it to gradually return to a natural condition. The project’s goal is to help accelerate a better return to nature by considering alternative soil preparation techniques. By adding biochar to improve soil fertility, and incorporating undesirable scrub brush as a vegetative cover to hold soil moisture and discourage grassland animals from foraging on the seeds before they germinate, researchers believe this could be done.
“We are honored to partner with the Borderlands Research Institute on this important effort, which aligns with our mission to meet the growing demand for energy and to do so in a cleaner, more sustainable way,” Jessica Jackson, Apache’s Vice President of Environment, Health and Safety, says in a news release. “For many years, Apache has worked to restore well pads to their habitat potential. To further our efforts to continuously improve, Apache is supporting scientific research at sites in the Permian Basin to study the efficacy of methods for habitat restoration.”
The project will also measure increases in soil carbon to passively sequester CO2 in healthy desert soils, which will support Sul Ross State University student research through BRI.
“We all depend on the energy produced in the Permian Basin to power our lives, and we look forward to bringing valuable science to the table to support enhanced restoration practices in the energy industry,” Dr. Louis Harveson, the Dan Allen Hughes, Jr. Endowed Director of Borderlands Research Institute adds in the release. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with Apache on this important research and applaud their leadership on this issue.”