Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Ultra-deepwater and Unconventional Resources Program)
Barnett and Appalachian Shale Water Management and Reuse Technologies
The goal of this project is to develop water management methods and technologies that reduce demands for freshwater, reduce environmental impact of brine disposal, and ensure supplies of water for well drilling and completion for natural gas development in the Barnett and Appalachian Shale Plays.
Gas Technology Institute, Chicago, IL 60693
The overall objective of this project is to develop water management methods and technologies that reduce demands for freshwater, reduce environmental impact of brine disposal, and ensure supplies of water for natural gas development in the Barnett and Appalachian Shale Plays. Large amounts of water (millions of gallons) are required for the completion of each well; therefore, methods are needed to locate sources of water that do not compete with existing public or private water demands. Another approach used to satisfy regional well completion water demand is the reuse of well completion effluents or "flowback water" to conduct future frac jobs.
Processes used for demineralization that are critical to the reuse of flowback waters require further development to improve reliability and cost in their application to shale gas water conservation and management. Typical problems include the fouling of heat exchangers and membranes which limit process runs and drive up operational costs (including maintenance and energy costs). For this project, the areas of emphasis include: 1) Evaluation of promising commercially-available technologies for water reuse; 2) Development of novel coatings to improve performance and cost of ultrafiltration, nanofiltration, and reverse osmosis treatment technologies in the demineralization of flowback waters; 3) Development of electrodialysis reversal for low-cost produced water and flowback water demineralization; and, 4) Identification and evaluation of alternate sources of water that may be useful as replacements for groundwater or surface waters that serve as community water supplies.
This work engages the operators of the most successful current field units treating flowback/produced waters, as well as research scientists and engineers, to address each of the four technical areas of emphasis listed above. All aspects of the project will undergo periodic review by the Barnett Shale Water Conservation and Management Committee (BSWCMC) and the Appalachian Shale Water Conservation and Management Committee (ASWCMC) to ensure that development efforts are directed toward meeting the needs of the natural gas industry in the Barnett and Appalachian Shale Plays. Membership of these committees includes over 20 producing companies in the respective shale gas plays: Anadarko, Atlas, Chesapeake, Chief, Cabot, CNX, ConocoPhillips, Devon, East Resources, EnCana, EOG, Equitable, Exco-North Coast, Harding Company, J-W Operating, Marathon, Pioneer Resources, Pitts Oil, Quicksilver, Range Resources, Seneca, Williams Production, and XTO Energy.
Potential beneficial impacts of this project include a reduction in industry demand for fresh water for shale gas developments; easing water availability constraints on field development and well completion activity; decreasing environmental impacts due to water transportation including air impacts, fugitive dust, truck traffic, and overall carbon footprint; and extending technologies and know-how to the development of other shale gas basins.
The Project Management Plan and the Technology Status Assessment have both been completed for this project. The Project Management Plan consists of a work breakdown structure that concisely addresses the objectives and approach for each task with all major milestones and decision points. The Technology Status Assessment describes the state-of-the-art of the proposed technology.
Characterization of non-state water bodies and examination of databases that inventory wastewater treatment plants and groundwater resources in the water stressed areas of the Barnett Shale continues. This will aid in locating alternative sources of water.
Instructions for water sample collection and preservation have been acquired, and four host site companies have been trained in sampling protocol by Texerra. Sampling began in June 2010.
The electrodialysis unit has been tested on synthetic water, and the University of Texas has conducted experiments on coated membrane materials applied to reverse osmosis (RO) processing of simulated flowback water. This testing has doubled the RO for the same pressure drop, and has decreased the energy requirement by 50%. Actual flowback water will be used for testing the coated membranes next. A field ETU Skid for integrated membrane testing was also designed and constructed by GeoPure in cooperation with Texas A&M University.
Projects results related to the critical evaluation of the ability of polymeric coatings to improve membrane performance membrane performance were favorable leading to the decision to proceed with field testing of the membranes.
The key tasks to be undertaken are outlined below.
Up to three workshops will be supported to inform the industry, the public, engineering firms, governmental officials, and other stakeholders about the progress and results of this project. GTI will work to develop opportunities to involve RPSEA in the Barnett Shale Expo and other significant forums resulting in outreach and information dissemination to a wide range of stakeholders related to Barnett Shale Development. GTI will also have at least one information dissemination opportunity in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Association (POGAM) Environmental Conference and/or the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) Shale Gas Water Management Workshops that are held in close cooperation with the Marcellus Shale Committee and the ASWCMC.
Within the first months of the project, the GTI Team will meet to identify possible commercialization pathways and stakeholders associated with these pathways. The Team will also meet with RPSEA staff to discuss a plan to enjoin these critical individuals and organizations in early conversations on issues of product value and practical deployment. GTI will conduct an outreach to these commercialization stakeholders to encourage the formation of partnerships for future technology deployment ventures.
The GTI Team shall produce more than 25 technical publications and conference presentations during the two-year duration of the project. At least seven events, including three workshops, two Barnett Expo events and two POGAM forums, will be used to provide the right types of information to stakeholders for improved decision making. An information-sharing outreach will also be made to water conservation organizations (such as the Tarrant Regional Water District, the Brazos River Authority, and the Delaware Conservancy) and to the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), the Texas Railroad Commission (RRC), Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to increase awareness of the development of water reuse options among regional and state agencies.
Develop Shale Flowback / Produced Water Characteristics Database
Water reuse system developments depend on the compositional characteristics and concentrations of constituents requiring removal for water reuse. The research team will create a database that will be used to determine treatment needs and processing required for effective water.
Determine the Feasibility of Capturing Low-TDS Early Flowback Water
Following hydraulic fracturing, the early flowback water stream emerging from the well soon after release is usually relatively low in Total Dissolved Solids (TDS), followed by a rise in salinity with subsequent flows. The research team will determine the technical and economic feasibility of segregating and reusing early flowback water streams for hydraulic fracturing for subsequent well completions.
Determine the Feasibility of Using Alternative Water Sources
Gas production in the Barnett Shale is expanding to the west and south of the core area into areas with groundwater resources about which little is known and where some of the surface water resources are tied up for municipal use. Therefore, there is a need for a coordinated approach to locating alternate sources of water and evaluating various means of water delivery to alleviate potential water availability constraints on Barnett Shale production over the next 20 years. This project will carry out such an analysis.
Conduct Engineering Evaluation of Performance and Cost of Existing Vapor Compression Evaporation Field Units for Shale Water Reuse
In 2007, Devon Energy worked with its vendor and water treatment service provider, Fountain Quail, to identify conditions that maximize performance of a high-efficiency, vapor compression evaporation unit to recover water from fracturing flowback water and produced water at Barnett Shale producing locations. Though operating at a fraction of the size of a full scale unit, the current field treatment facility receives thousands of barrels per day from various wells. The unit blends, pretreats, and demineralizes the water using Vapor Compression Evaporation (VCE), and sells the product water to companies for frac jobs. To date, the performance and cost of this unit has not been publically described in a publication that can be used by companies in the Barnett to decide if sending their water to such a facility makes economic or engineering sense. This project will produce such a document.
Development of Electrodialysis for the Demineralization of Shale Flowback Water
Electrodialysis is a low-pressure, electrically-driven membrane process that is generally more resistant to fouling than reverse osmosis under oil and gas field conditions. Over the past decade, better membranes and improved operating conditions have reduced power requirements for conventional produced water demineralization by more than 35 percent. Selection of advanced membranes, spacer design, and parametric optimization can achieve even further improvements in performance and overall cost. This project will develop improvements to this technology.
Improve UF/ Nanofiltration or NF/RO Membrane Performance Through the Use of Innovative Coatings
Ultra Filtration (UF) membranes can remove suspended solids and other colloidal-sized contaminants from water. Nanofiltration (NF) and RO membranes can also desalinate water. However, when commercially available UF, RO, and NF membranes are exposed to a mixture of salt, emulsified oil droplets, and other particulate matter (all common in oilfield brines), their lifetime decreases catastrophically due to dramatic and largely irreversible permeate flux reduction which causes fouling of the membranes by organic components (primarily from emulsified oil droplets). This project will explore a novel approach to improve the fouling resistance of commercial UF, RO, and NF membranes by applying a very thin coating of fouling-resistant polymer to the surface of the membranes. This work builds on earlier success on polymeric-coating-improved ceramic UF membranes employed for the treatment of oily wastewater (bilge water) aboard U.S. Navy ships.
Field Evaluation of Improved Membrane Treatment Systems in the extended test unit (ETU)
GeoPure, with the cooperation of Texas A&M, has developed a skid-mounted treatment system that can be used as a field based experimental test unit to evaluate advanced membrane treatment approaches for Barnett Shale flowback and produced waters. This project will combine the capabilities of GTI, GeoPure Water Technologies LLC, Texas A&M University, and University of Texas to carry out a field evaluation designed to assess the feasibility of advanced membrane technologies for conversion of flowback and produced waters to a water stream suitable for reuse.
Engineering Systems Analysis
As part of this project, GTI will provide an information base on water management methods currently employed in the Barnett Shale. Costs of transportation, water disposal via Class II well, conventional water reuse practices, and various means of water storage, pumping, and piping will be included. This research team will also estimate the overall impacts of system improvements to water management costs arising from the technologies developed by this project, including economic and environmental effects. Also included will be an evaluation of the impacts to the life-cycle “carbon footprints” represented by various water management schemes. Information from these analyses will be used to evaluate the overall improvements achieved by the project in the improvement of water management in the Barnett Shale.
Deliverables will include a final report along with the above mentioned Shale Flowback / Produced Water Characteristics Database, a conceptual design for automated flowback water segregation and storage of low TDS waters for reuse, a guidance Document on current practices used by Barnet Shale natural gas companies to locate alternate sources of water, an Engineering Decision Tool (< 40 pg Document) on the Use of VCE for the Treatment and Reuse of Flowback and Produced Waters in the Barnett Shale, an ETU test plan, and topical reports for each Task.
Project Start: August 11, 2009
Project End: August 10, 2011
DOE Contribution: $2,500,000
Performer Contribution: $640,000
RPSEA - Jim Chitwood (firstname.lastname@example.org or 281-690-5511)
NETL - Virginia (Ginny) Weyland (email@example.com or 918-699-2041)
Gas Technology Institute - Tom Hayes (firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-768-0722)
Final Project Report [PDF-3.17MB]
Topical Report [PDF-2.47MB] Feasibility of Using Alternative Water Sources for Shale Gas Well Completions - Barnett Shales
Topical Report [PDF-1.41MB] Field Assessment of Anti-Fouling Polymeric Membrane Coatings
Topical Report [PDF-694KB] Feasibility and Design Approach for Automated Classification and Segregation of Early Flowback Water
Topical Report [PDF-1.50MB] Feasibility Assessment of Early Flowback Water Recovery for Reuse in Subsequent Well Completions