Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The price of cleaning produced water is as much as 300 times greater than municipal water

Produced water is water trapped in underground formations that comes to the surface during oil and gas exploration and production.

 It occurs naturally in formations where oil and gas are found and is millions of years old. When oil or gas is extracted, they're brought to the surface along with this produced water as a combined fluid. The composition of this produced fluid includes a mixture of either liquid or gaseous hydrocarbons, produced water, dissolved or suspended solids, produced solids such as sand or silt, and recently injected fluids and additives that may have been placed in the formation as a result of exploration and production activities.

Produced water handling and treatment represents an $18 billion cost to the oil and gas industry in the U.S. alone. The cost of disposing of oil and gas produced water ranges from a low of $0.002 per gallon ($0.08/barrel) to a high of $0.30 a gallon ($12.00/barrel). By contrast, water for agricultural irrigation can be as low as $0.0001 per gallon ($0.004/barrel) and municipal drinking water costs in the range of $0.001 per gallon ($0.04/barrel).

The price of cleaning produced water is therefore as much as 300 times greater than municipal water, and as much as 3,000 times greater than agricultural irrigation water.

Produced Water at an oil or gas site in the process of desalination by an AltelaRain systemThe separation, handling, and disposal of produced water represent the single largest waste stream challenge facing the oil and gas production industry. Altela and ProducedWater.com have the solution.

The cost of produced water handling and disposal includes lifting large volumes of water to the surface, separating it from the petroleum product, treating it, and then injecting it into the ground or disposing of it in surface evaporation ponds.

Historically, produced water generated at an oil or gas site is stored on-site in large tanks. Oil and gas companies must pay for disposal trucking companies to visit the site multiple times per week, pump the produced water out of the storage tanks and transport the waste to commercial underground reinjection sites. These disposal trucks must often travel great distances to the reinjection sites. When these trucks are unavailable or during periods of poor weather, many well sites must be shut down due to the inability to store and/or dispose of the produced water onsite.

In addition, many oil and gas wells are simply “pinching back” production due to inability of onsite infrastructure to handle produced water volumes. Trucking costs alone can be in excess of $3 per barrel (bbl) and a disposal reinjection well can cost upwards of $4 million to drill. In many locations, total produced water disposal costs are greater than $5/bbl. Stated differently, the oil & gas industry spends as much as 80 times as much, per gallon, to get rid of dirty produced water as individuals pay for clean municipal water. Despite considerable efforts and investment, there were no cost-effective technological solutions available to reduce the huge disposal costs of this highly brackish produced water, until now. View PDF of our Oil & Gas Industry Brochure.

AltelaRain® lowers the cost of oil and gas production while dramatically decreasing the volume of waste that needs to be trucked away and disposed. It purifies the most highly challenged water using energy produced at the wellhead, in a simple, mobile and modular system located on-site. More on the AltelaRain® System.   

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