|Zero Discharge Water Management for Horizontal Shale Gas Well Development||Last Reviewed 9/18/2012|
The objective of the project is to develop an on-site multi-media filtration system. The five-stage modular design will permit efficient system operation and treatment of flowback water at conditions that vary over time.
West Virginia University
Shale gas development in the Marcellus gas play in the northern Appalachian Basin requires large volumes of water to fracture the formation and stimulate production. Known as ?frac return water?, it and produced water are highly saline and currently require either disposal or treatment. Both options are expensive. Produced water that cannot be readily treated for local disposal (e.g., land application) could be hauled to an injection well for disposal. These are EPA Class II wells permitted under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and are carefully controlled and monitored. Disposal costs are well established. In Texas, haulage and disposal costs average $1.47 per barrel. In the more populated East, the costs range from $1.68 to $2.10 per barrel. As an alternative to deep well disposal, produced water has been processed at municipal or commercial treatment plants (especially in Pennsylvania) but this practice is being re-evaluated. While this treatment removes some contaminants, it does not address salinity and throughput is limited by plant limitations and the ability to dilute the effluent to meet water quality standards. This is a costly alternative that will be less likely to be used in the future as small towns and cities find that their standard treatment is inadequate and that they lack the necessary capacity.
The more cost-effective alternative is on-site treatment of the produced water to the degree needed for re-use as frac water. Produced water has been successfully treated using Reverse Osmosis (RO) as the primary treatment technology. However, extension of the RO technology to the treatment of flow back from hydraulic fracture operations has required pre-treatment technologies designed to extend the life of the RO unit. RO protection is especially important during the initial frac water return period when the water will contain the maximum suspended solids and minimum dissolved solids.
Re-use technologies are just now being implemented, and as reported in a recent overview (GWPC, April 2009): ?Current levels of interest in recycling and re-use are high, but new approaches and more efficient technologies are needed to make treatment and re-use a wide-spread reality.? The FilterSure multi-media filter technology offers a new, cost-effective approach ideally suited for removing suspended solids associated with frac return water while promising an order of magnitude improvement in operating efficiency. The filter is expected to replace all of the pre-treatment steps now being examined under the DOE contract, dramatically reducing the costs and enhancing the attractiveness of water re-use.
The successful development of an advanced FilterSure technology for clean-up and re-use of frac return water will advance shale gas exploitation and development through improved economics and resolution of environmental issues. Improved economics will be achieved by the reduction of frac return water trucking and disposal costs. By reusing the frac return water for subsequent fractures, the need for new, fresh frac water for future wells will be reduced by 30% to 50% depending on the percentage of injected water that is returned after the frac. There will be an additional cost savings due to reduced freshwater hauling, and labor costs will be minimized because the mobile unit will operate continuously with little or no need for an attendant. Significant environmental benefits will be derived from this technology as well. Less fresh water will be needed for future fractures, thus lowering the demand stress on local streams. Fewer trips with water trucks will cause less damage to local roads, reduce fugitive dust and engine exhaust emissions, and reduce mud and muddy water which potentially could pollute streams. These derived environmental benefits will also provide indirect economic benefits through reduced cost of road repairs, and less need for local stream remediation. Perhaps the most important benefit from cleaner and less disruptive drilling will be the ?good will? of all stakeholders affected by the shale gas development process.
Current Status (September 2012)
The project has ended and the final report is available below under "Additional Information".
Project Start: October 1, 2009
Project End: March 31, 2012
DOE Contribution: $609,619
Performer Contribution: $390,381
NETL - William Fincham (email@example.com or 304-285-4268)
WVU - Dr. Paul Ziemkiewicz (firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-293-2867x5441)
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Final Project Report [PDF-1.77MB]
Technology Status Assessment [PDF-122KB]
Quarterly Progress Report [PDF-284KB] October - December 2009
Quarterly Progress Report [PDF-279KB] January - March 2010
Quarterly Progress Report [PDF-792KB] April - June 2010
Quarterly Progress Report [PDF-678KB] July - September 2010