Agriculture company turns oil well water into beneficial-use water
June 29, 2018
A new agriculture-based company has developed a system to repurpose water from oil drilling — while it may not be at wine level — turning wasted water into a useable product is a win-win for a number of industries.
Wyoming-based agriculture company, Encore Green, LLC recently released the results of their pilot water test, that gave them the green light to repurpose water from the oil industry, into beneficial-use water for the agriculture industry.
According to Encore Green owners, this solves three problems at once. The oil industry produces 890 billion gallons of produced (by-product) water in the U.S. each year. With a tiny percentage used for fracking, this water is disposed of, either by injection into the ground or left to evaporate.
Meanwhile, adjacent to these same oil wells that are producing this water are the nation's farms and ranches, which are in desperate need of water for crops and herds. At the same time, over in town, municipalities struggle for relief for the growing demand for water for homes and businesses.
What makes these results landmark is that the produced water was cleaned within an economic model that is better or the same as the cost of conventional produced water disposal. Previous efforts have typically left one of the participants bearing a higher cost.
"I'm a big believer in that everyone has to win. So, the financial model had to be fair and stay inside the current economic parameters. Encore Green is an agriculture company and our goal has always been to be good stewards of our water. Water is vital to crops, stock, and has many other beneficial uses. Now, we can take the billions of barrels of water that we are essentially just throwing away or injecting into the ground and turn them into beneficial-use," said Encore Green General Manager Marvin Nash.
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Encore Green has worked the past year to bring all the parties together for this proof of concept test. Nash said the victory is not only a technological victory, but also a victory in methodology.
"There's a few unique things which we did that simply hadn't been tried before," Nash said. "We had to develop methods to match the soil DNA with the water DNA to know the right specs to clean the water. We had to find the right partners and we had to get a permit for this. It took much longer than we thought, but we simply stayed with it until we were done."
Nash, a former rodeo clown who grew up in agriculture, is familiar with the water struggles facing producers and other industry challenges, including communications.
"We partnered together the water and soil scientists, engineers, the landowner, the oil company, the cleaning technology company, and then worked with state legislators, the governor's office, the federal and state permitting groups and all of that brought us to this point of success today. The key is not any one of those groups. The whole is much greater than the sum of its parts. And working together is the only way we are going to solve the water crisis we have," Nash said.
Working with the Beneficial Use Water Alliance, Nash and Encore Communications Director Jeff Holder, have used their combined communications skills to build a business that connects the dots, and puts the wasted water back to use with the stewards of the land.
BUWA is a nonprofit, that helps to build relationships between all produced water stakeholders, by connecting landowners, oil producers, environmentalists, legislators and more. Relationships are what actually turns produced water into beneficial-use, the BUWA website points out.
The technology for a project like this has been available for years, according to Nash, but the ethics behind it have changed, including a few more obstacles to maneuver.
"We do it. We do it right. And we keep doing it," Nash said.
"We are a part of the solutions. We are trying to improve the system," Holder added.
According to Nash, the average well produces 500 barrels a day, and uses anywhere from three to 10 barrels of water for each barrel of oil. That's billions of gallons of produced water, that is wasted.
"That's 150,000 plus gallons of water every time we drill a well," Nash said.
The company, already working with three sites in Wyoming, is looking at expanding to Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado and Louisiana.
"This has changed everything," said Encore Green owner, Darlene Nash, in a press release. "Our proprietary methodology aids the oil industry by giving them a solution instead throwing away the water. The methodology allows the agricultural community to have easy-to-come by water. And if water is not being used for irrigation and herds, then there's more water for the municipalities. Everybody wins. With such great test results, we have now taken this from theory into practice."
The primary goal of cleaning the water has been for beneficial use for the agricultural community.
"The test results are remarkable," said Neil Fehringer, a certified professional agronomist from Fehringer Agricultural Consulting. "This water is now good quality irrigation water."
To speak with Encore Green, LLC, visit EncoreGreenLLC.com or call (818) 470-0285. Produced water stats: http://www.producedwatersociety.com/produced-water-101/.❖
—Eatherton is a freelance writer from Beulah, Wyo. When she's not writing, she's riding her horse or playing with her grandson. She can be reached at email@example.com.