Hey, Wall Street Journal — We’ve been saying this for quite some time!
There’s a huge opportunity in handling water from Oil & Gas operations!
Thank you, Christopher Matthews, for your story! However, there’s more you could include …
First off, the industry-recognized term for the water we’re talking about here, the wastewater generated by oil & gas operations, is “produced water.” And, indeed there are billions of barrels generated each year by the oil & gas industry. The mining industry and manufacturing industry also generate hundreds of millions of barrels of their own version of produced water.
For every barrel of oil or ‘cube of natural gas captured at the drilling site, as much as two to 50 barrels of produced water is generated. It’s mixed in with the oil when it comes up. Many have joked that they are not in the oil business as much as they are in the water business, because once they separate the two, there’s always so much more (produced) water leftover.
Why have industry operators been carefully trucking this produced water offsite for safe re-injection elsewhere? Because it’s toxic.
Produced water, even though it has been separated from the oil, the water still has a lot of dissolved contaminants in it. And, because these nasties are dissolved in the water, it’s extremely difficult to separate them from the water.
While produced water contains salt, it’s not the major concern. Salt is not a problem. Salt mixed with other contaminants is THE problem. Companies can do many things with salty water aka “brine.” Salty water can be used at the well pad for fracking. It can be sprayed on roads to keep the dust down. If the salt content is not too high, it can be used for irrigation for certain crops and for certain types of livestock watering.
But, salty produced water cannot be used for these purposes unless the organic hydrocarbons (including BTEX) and dissolved metals are removed first. And, all produced water contains organic hydrocarbons in addition to salt. These are the nasties referred to earlier.
BTEX is a group of the compounds (Benzene, Toluene, Ethylbenzene, and Xylene) proven to cause cancer, nerve damage, and birth defects. It’s not something you want to give your cows, or your crops, or have floating around the dust after the water from road-spraying operations has dried up. You don’t want BTEX in anything.
So, that’s why they truck it away and are careful not to spill any of the contaminated water.
In his, story Christopher Matthews‘ sources talk about building pipelines to re-injection dumping sites instead of paying $6 per barrel to truck it to the site. But, pipelines are an expensive infrastructure cost and pumping it back down into the ground anywhere is not the optimum solution because the produced water could leach into the drinking water or cause earthquakes.
At IX Power Clean Water we manufacture machines that TREAT produced water for 17 cents to 47 cents per barrel to the point where it’s clean enough to give to livestock, use in crop irrigation, and re-use it at the well pad site for fracking operations. And, yes, you want to start with clean water in fracking operations. You don’t want to use contaminated produced water if you care about the life of your well.
Such a solution to the growing problem of produced water management not only saves oil & gas companies money, it provides a new “found” source of water at a time when we need it, particularly in the western U.S. Millions of barrels of fresh water are used to frack wells every day.
We need to take a look at the whole story when it comes to investing in O & G water operations. The REAL opportunity is not just in building pipelines so industry can keep re-injecting contaminated water into the ground. The real opportunity, and the one that’s going to help EVERYONE in the future, O & G companies included, is investing in technologies that CLEAN that water for re-use.
Read the original story in the Wall Street Journal that prompted this blog post HERE.