Energy policy — oil and gas: Treating water used in hydraulic fracturing leads to opportunities to generate profit


From The Wall Street Journal (Yuliya Chernova):

Ecosphere Technologies Inc., based in Stuart, Fla., is one of the dominant providers of water treatment for the shale-gas industry, according to Lux Research, a technology research and consulting firm. The company’s technology avoids the use of chemicals typically employed to treat wastewater.

Ecosphere’s process forces dirty water through pipes where ozone breaks down contaminants with the help of sound waves, electrically charged particles and changes in pressure. No waste is created in the process, because while the technology renders contaminants harmless it doesn’t filter anything out.

Another strong competitor for new business, according to Lux analyst Brent Giles, is WaterTectonics Inc., based in Everett, Wash. The company uses a process called electric coagulation, in which an electric charge forces contaminant particles into clumps that can be removed after they either rise to the surface of the water or sink to the bottom. The process avoids the use of chemicals, but it does produce waste that has to be disposed of.

Another company, Altela Inc., based in Albuquerque, N.M., earned a spot on Artemis Project’s 2011 list of the 50 most innovative water-technology companies in the U.S. Its technology mimics rainmaking. Wastewater is heated to the point of evaporation, which produces clean water in the form of vapor, leaving contaminant particles behind. The vapor is then condensed back into liquid form.

The basic process, called thermal distillation, isn’t new, but Altela has found a way to make it more efficient, by capturing the heat generated by condensation and using it for evaporation. Ned Godshall, the company’s chief executive, says Altela’s method uses a third of the energy typically required for conventional thermal distillation.

Meanwhile, a Wheat Ridge company, ProTreat Technology Corporation, has just inked a deal with Select Energy Services for treatment technology. Here’s a release from MarketWire:

Select Energy Services, LLC (“Select”), a water solutions and oilfield service company headquartered in Houston, Texas, announced today the signing of a license agreement with ProTreat Technology Corporation, (“ProTreat”), a Wheat Ridge, Colorado based provider of water treatment, recycling and reuse technology to oil and gas operators.

The agreement gives Select additional access to expertise in water treatment and recycling services and ProTreat licensed technology, while ProTreat gains exposure into new markets and geographical areas. “The strategic partnership with ProTreat will provide Select with a valuable partner in water solutions, water treatment and water recycling, and is expected to enhance our Water Solutions and Environmental service offerings throughout the US,” said John Schmitz, CEO of Select. “We look forward to providing a proven water treatment solution to the oil and gas industry.”

The ProTreat technology takes flow back water and produced water, blends, treats, and produces a salt solution (sodium/potassium chloride) that can be utilized by operators for hydraulic fracturing and other well operations. Construction of the first treatment facility has commenced at the recently acquired Lone Star facility in Weld County, Colorado, in the heart of the Niobrara Shale and DJ Basin. Additionally, Select and ProTreat have plans to begin working on a mobile version that can be utilized at the well site.

More oil and gas coverage here and here.

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