Photo credit: Devon Energy

Energy companies and environmentalists don't always seem to see eye-to-eye. Despite the disagreements, oil and gas companies really are trying to make a positive impact on the environment. Here are two areas where energy companies have really listened to their critics to make great strides to be better stewards of the environment.

Water Recycling
Energy companies require massive amounts of water to develop oil and gas projects. In order to reduce the amount of freshwater used, companies are increasingly turning to water recycling projects to provide the water needed to secure our future energy supplies. One of the more unique projects is a 50-50 joint venture between Encana (OVV -1.48%) and Apache (APA -1.92%) for the Debolt Water Treatment Plant in British Colombia. This first of its kind plant pulls water from the Debolt aquifer, which is a deep sub-surface non-potable, saline aquifer. The water is then treated, used to frack wells and then recycled back into the same Debolt formation where it can be used again. The project has enabled Apache to reduce the fresh water it uses in fracking the natural gas rich Horn River basin by 95%.

In Oklahoma, Devon Energy (DVN -1.95%) built a water recycling facility in order to support the development of the Cana-Woodford shale. The project includes a 500,000-barrel storage reservoir and a series of pipelines that connect to Devon's well sites. Not only does this facility dramatically reduce the amount of water Devon needed to pull from nearby farm ponds or the North Canadian River, but it also helped to reduce truck traffic. Further, the project reduces the amount of water that needed to be injected into water disposal wells, which are thought to cause minor earthquakes. Water recycling projects like these will become increasingly more important to the industry as it works to better safeguard our most precious natural resource.  

Carbon Capture and Storage
Oil giant Chevron (CVX -1.50%) is spending $2 billion on the world's largest carbon dioxide injection facility. The project will store over 3 million tonnes per year in a saline aquifer. It's part of the company's massive Gorgon LNG project in Australia. Because the raw gas produced out of the Gorgon field contains about 14% carbon dioxide, Chevron needs to separate and safely dispose of it before it can purify, liquefy and sell the methane to world markets. It's one of the most ambitious carbon capture and sequestration projects in the world and could become a global template for future carbon capture and storage projects.

Another company with a unique spin on carbon capture and storage is Denbury Resources (DNR). The oil company has secured carbon dioxide from a number of industrial sources, which it's using to enhance oil recovery. So, instead of injecting the carbon dioxide into an aquifer, Denbury is injecting it into a mature oil field in an effort to push more oil out of the reservoir. Overall, the company has six projects either currently producing or proposed, which will supply it with a portion the carbon dioxide it needs to capture more oil out of these fields.

Final Foolish Thoughts
The energy industry and the environment really can live in harmony. That's because the industry is making great strides to reduce the amount of freshwater it uses as well as providing solutions to curb carbon emissions. It's a good thing too, because right now the world is craving energy and we need these companies to continue producing at high levels. 

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