How Far Can We Affordably Purify Produced Water? E-Symposium and Articles Provide Answers

Published
American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG)

Because of new technology and the high cost of disposal of produced saltwater, and the even high cost of disposing of flowback from stimulation (usually hydraulic fracturing), but also acidizing and other treatments, treating and purifying produced water to the point that it is useable in EOR and in hydraulic fracturing is an attractive option, particularly if hauling costs are not too high, and also the quality can be assured. Some innovative money-saving and highly effective new technologies are discussed in an e-Symposium, Successful Oilfield Water Management: Case Studies and New Directions, by Brent Halldorson of Fountain Quail in an e-symposium to take place on April 16 at 2 pm. For information, please click the link.

In anticipation of the webinar, a few tough questions came to mind, and Patrick Horner was nice enough to answer them. Patrick Horner, who is also from Fountain Quail, is an expert in distillation systems, and has a great deal of experience with several different plays and formations, with a wide range of TDS and types of impurities.

Here are the questions that Patrick answered in the interview:
  1. How easy is it to get started distilling water from a well that is making 100 bbls of fluid a day, with 5% oil cut and 50 mcf gas?
  2. Do you have to let the water settle longer? Do you recommend using surfactants to separate the water and oil more quickly?
  3. Can you use the produced gas as energy for the distillation / condensation process?
  4. How pure is the end product? Is it potable?
  5. Does distillation remove aromatic HC?
  6. Do you get EPA Drinking Water approval at the wellsite, or should we take the water elsewhere for further processing / testing?

AAPG GTWs have included sessions on water sourcing, water treatment, and sourcing, including Solving Water Problems (February 26-27, Fort Worth) and Eagle Ford (March 18-20, San Antonio).

AAPG is investigating new ways to bring together geoscientists, industry, and communities to find solutions for water issues in drought-stricken communities. One approach involves implementing new technologies to purify the brine that is produced along with oil and gas in many fields. As you may be aware, this can be a sizable volume of water, and often it is simply reinjected into deeper formations, never to be retrieved again. One option would be to purify the produced water to the point it can be used for agricultural and other community needs. Then, instead of disposing of the water in injection wells, it could be put to good use.

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