Recycling fracking water could be a ‘game-changer’ in N.D.

Chad Monger, right, and Walter Dale, both with Halliburton, explain advancements in technology that can allow oil companies to recycle water used for hydraulic fracturing on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, in Watford City, N.D. Amy Dalrymple/Forum News Service

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – The technology is now available to allow oil companies to recycle water used for hydraulic fracturing in North Dakota, industry representatives said Tuesday.

But implementing that technology in the Bakken will take time as operators adjust to the new methods and regulators respond with new permitting rules.

Oil service companies Halliburton and Nuverra Environmental Services held an event in Watford City Tuesday for industry leaders to learn more about a new system that could reduce the amount of fresh water being used for oil production in North Dakota.

The oil industry used about 5.5 billion gallons of fresh water in North Dakota in 2012, according to the North Dakota State Water Commission.

In recent years, Halliburton told its customers that hydraulic fracturing required fresh water, said Walter Dale, strategic business manager for water management solutions.

But technology advancements have changed that, and Halliburton is now promoting a system it says can reuse water that is injected into deep underground formations in North Dakota.

The system can reduce the fresh water usage, reduce truck traffic and reduce disposal costs, providing environmental benefits and saving operators an estimated $100,000 to $400,000 per well, Dale said.

“It just makes sense,” Dale said.

In fracking, the fresh water is mixed with sand and chemicals and pumped at high pressures into the underground formation to extract oil and gas. Some of that water returns to the surface and must be pumped into disposal wells constructed to ensure the waste does not contaminate drinking water sources.

Companies also use a similar injection process to dispose what is known as produced water, which comes up with the oil and has a high salinity content.

Recycling the water would cut down the amount of wastewater that will need to be disposed.

Nuverra, formerly Power Fuels, is partnering with Halliburton to handle the logistics of implementing the technology.

“We believe this is a significant game-changer,” said Mark Johnsrud, CEO of Nuverra. “We think this has a long-term, meaningful impact to the industry.

As more wells are drilled in the Bakken, a tremendous amount of water will be required, Johnsrud said.

“If we take a look at this industry over time, we have to take a look at how we become sustainable,” Johnsrud said.

Nuverra is developing a site 12 miles east of Watford City that will store and treat the water for reuse. The company is working with the North Dakota Industrial Commission and expects to begin operating the facility within a month, Johnsrud said.

Dave Hvinden, field operations supervisor for the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, said state regulators are in favor of recycling water, but are reviewing the process to ensure that it’s done safely.

A major concern for regulators is that the water that’s being recycled – which has a high salinity content – is safely stored with adequate containment in the event that a tank leaks, Hvinden said.

The North Dakota Industrial Commission is developing a new administrative rule that relates to permitting of such treatment facilities, Hvinden said.

Three or four oil companies have expressed interest in using the new technology, Johnsrud said, and several operators in the Bakken attended the event to learn more about it.

Jeremy Myers, an operations superintendent with Hess Corp., said the technology looks good, but implementing it will depend on the logistics and availability of the recycled water.

“I think everyone’s going to be interested in it,” Myers said.

Johnsrud said he anticipates that companies will first test out the new technology for one or two wells and evaluate the results before adopting it on a large scale.

“We think this is going to take some time,” Johnsrud said.

Halliburton has set a goal of reducing the amount of fresh water the oil industry uses in North America by 25 percent by the end of 2014, but that depends on oil companies getting on board with the new technology, Dale said.

5 thoughts on “Recycling fracking water could be a ‘game-changer’ in N.D.

  1. The article is disappointing. What is the process and technology being used? Reverse osmosis? Another process? Perhaps a bit more research is needed if you want to inform your readers adequately.

    • Thanks for your comment. Here is some more information about the technology. I am quoting from Halliburton’s materials:

      “Halliburton’s mobile CleanWave services uses an electrical process that has the capacity to destabilize and coagulate suspended colloidal matter in water. When contaminated water passes through the electrocoagulation cells, the anodic process releases positively charged ions which bind onto the negatively charged colloidal particles in water resulting in coagulation. At the same time, gas bubbles, produced at the cathode, attach to the coagulated matter causing it to float to the surface where it is removed by a surface skimmer. Heavier coagulants sink to the bottom leaving clear water suitable for use in drilling and production operations.”

      • I believe that what is not clear is that the water from fracking sites will be recycled for additional fracking, not for freshwater use. This is at least some forward movement towards not depleting water resources in areas where fracking is prevelant.

  2. I am researching and have been active in protesting and raising awareness of this the fracking issue. I am a Native Texan originally. I found a map of the areas of Tx that have active drilling sites. All of Texas is now in a drought. This weekend as I drove through the southern part of the state I noticed all the rivers, and streams all dried up. The lakes are up to 20 feet below standard levels. The freshwater is drying up and between the lack of rain and the water utilized for fracking it is going to be a literal desert in my home state.

    After visiting with family and friends over the last few years with my trips back home, I have noticed an increase in very young children as well as young adults (30-40 age range) with various types of cancer. They are from mostly South Texas and also the North Texas area. Mainly towns in North Texas that include Coppell, Lewsiville and Fort Worth. Take a look at the active fracking sites in those areas and it is absolutely clear that these areas are overwhelmed with active fracking sites.

    This new source of energy has allowed the US to become less dependent on foreign countries and has had a positive affect on the economy. But I must ask at what cost? The water resources are gone in Texas. The population is and will be sick from the chemicals that seep into the ground water and wells of these fracked areas.
    The EPA has been involved somewhat from what I have read, although with the control of our politicians under the lobbyists, there is little chance that much will be done on the Federal level before it is too late.
    Please support the water recycling that some of the gas companies have adopted, limiting the supply of freshwater use from the cities and towns. Depleting our freshwater has to stop. Recycling the fracking water for future fracking use is a positive. The chemicals they use to frack must be fully disclosed and tested for safety standards. The states that have been successful in fighting the oil and gas companies from taking over are New York and Michigan. Pennsylvania has stopped drilling in additional areas, although much too late for many land owners in that area. The people in these communities have been very active in saving their communities from depleted resources and poisoning their water supply.

    It is painful for me to see my home state of Texas be fracked and drilled in all areas. My family and friends are getting sick and many have passed that lived in and around these active fracking areas.

    I would ask that anyone concerned with this issue to at the very least to spread awareness of this issue. To join in a local group opposed to this and if it has not begun in your state to keep the industry out through community grassroot efforts.

    Thanks and if anyone would like to discuss further I can be contacted at sherihill@gmail.com.

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