Frac water treatment is the treatment of fracturing water. Fracturing water is the water used in the fracturing process. The fracturing process is the process of extracting water from the fractures in the source rocks so that the natural gas, oil, or coal seam gas collects in the reservoir rocks. This makes for faster and easier extraction. The process involves the injection of high-pressure frac water into wellbores drilled into reservoir rock formations. The frac water is simply seawater (offshore drilling) or fresh water (inland drilling), but it is laced with such additives as proppants, which prevent the closing of the fractures, biocides, viscosity-modifiers, surfactants, and emulsifiers. An average well will use about 5 million gallons of frac water. Of this quantity, about 100,000 gallons will be additives. These additives vary in toxicity, but the simple fact is that frac water treatment is vital in the protection of the environment.
The traditional frac water treatment system used an energy-consuming system to clean the water to levels approved by the FDA (and other regulators in other countries). Treatment involved the killing of bacteria and the removal of volatile hydrocarbons and oxygen from the frac water. However, the future of treatment of frac water is moving towards ‘greener’ processes. More and more consumers are conscious about protecting the environment and an oil company that does not practice ‘green’ processes stands to be ostracized. To achieve ‘green’ processes, most oil industries are using systems that are fuel-efficient. Fuel efficiency also benefits the oil companies in that they have a lot less overhead costs. Most modern frac water recovery systems have closed loop systems, which ensure there is cross exchanging for energy efficiency.
There is also a trend towards cheaper frac water recovery options. Modern systems are capable of $0.05 per barrel using grid power and natural gas and $0.15 per barrel using propane and generated power.
Modern systems are capable of producing water that is cleaner that what older systems were capable of. Modern systems are capable of getting rid of more than 99% of the bacteria, even in waters that have live bacteria cell counts of over 7,650,000 Mg/mL. Note that all this is possible without the need for chemical treatment agents such as oxygen scavengers and toxic biocides.
Modern systems have high productivity rates. This goes a long way in increasing an oil company’s bottom line. An average system will process about 36 barrels of contaminated water per minute.
Most modern frac water treatment systems are used on-site. This is important because it reduces the oil company’s operation costs considerably. Today, most of these systems are portable. Modern systems can be customized to suit your particular needs. As more and more companies design water treatment systems, the cost of such systems is on a downward trend. Future water decontaminators, which are yet to receive U.S. patents, seek to combine the teaching of Fulton, Watt, Pasteur, and Chu.
If you are a player in the oil industry, it is important that you know the future of frac water treatment. This will help you get the best water decontaminator.