Ecologix Environmental Systems has introduced its Integrated Treatment System (ITS) platform, a water management system that uses a combined chemical treatment and dissolved air floatation system to clean and recycle water for fracking operations. In fact, the company says the ITS is so effective at cleaning frac water that it not only reduces the environmental impact of fracking, but can also improve a well’s productivity up to 40 percent.
“There are many pollutants in the water, one type being colloidal suspended solids,” says company president and CEO Eli Gruber. “At less than 1 micron in size, you can’t necessarily see them with the naked eye, but collectively they tend to make the water murky. These colloidal suspended solids matter because they clog up the very pores you’re trying to open.”
Gruber also points to the effects of using untreated aquifer water in drilling operations. The problem, as he explains it, is that when you introduce the less salty aquifer water to deeper fracking operations, the osmotic balance changes, causing the clay below to swell, which in turn closes down the pores you just created through fracking.
He estimates that this can all result in anywhere from a 4- to 40-percent loss in the well’s productivity, potentially costing the well owner millions of dollars.
In addition to improving a well’s productivity, the ITS platform also offers several environmental benefits: It eliminates the need to source fresh water by recycling frac water; it reduces road wear, noise and traffic because it offers on/near-site mobile water treatment; and it eliminates the risk of spills or leaks of dirty water from disposal since the water is being treated and cleaned right away.
The ITS is founded on two main components: the Mobile Chemical Treatment (MCT) and Mobile Dissolved Air Flotation (DAF) units. The MCT unit doses and mixes precision levels of chemistry to prepare flowback or produced water for physical separation in the Mobile DAF unit. The Mobile DAF unit combines aeration and skimming to remove solids from the water.
Approximately a year and a half ago, Gruber says Halliburton was in Louisiana cleaning water but, despite their best efforts, they couldn’t get their water clean enough. Halliburton’s goal was to get the turbidity of the water down to about 100 Nephelometric Turbidity Units (NTU), but they couldn’t seem to get any lower than 530 NTU. That’s when they called Ecologix for help.
“Halliburton was using electrical coagulation and sedimentation to clean the water,” says Gruber. “Without changing any of the front chemistry, our process reduced their best of 530 NTU down to just 3 NTU. That’s almost as clean as tap water.”
In other words, the ITS platform produced results approximately 175 times better than Hallibuton’s best.
In terms of costs, Gruber says the ITS platform will pay for itself within two to five days of the well’s operation. He estimates the typical well costs about $8 million to drill and frac. If the well produces 300 barrels of oil a day and the barrels sell for $90 each, then the well will produce about $10 million per year.
A well like this will consume about four million gallons of water to frac, of which approximately one million will flowback over five days. This equates to about approximately 24,000 barrels of flowback.
“Even in West Texas, which is about the cheapest place you can go, it costs about $2 per barrel in overall costs to dispose of that flowback,” explains Gruber. “That’s $48,000 to get rid of that flowback. But to treat the same amount of water using the ITS platform, it costs the same thing.”
As he says, no matter how you slice it. It doesn’t make sense not to do the right thing. And when you take into account the loss of a well’s productivity from using dirty water, it can literally cost millions of dollars to do it the wrong way.
For more information, visit Ecologix Environmental Systems online at www.ecologixsystems.com. ND