Over the past few weeks, I've dedicated my Big 2 Energy Reports to hydraulic fracturing. So far, I've showed you how this complicated process works. I've also tackled some of the more controversial issues like the chemicals used in fracing fluid. Now, I'm wrapping up this special series by taking a look at another issue that's very relevant given the ongoing drought West Texas is facing.
To frac a well here in the Permian Basin, it usually takes around a million gallons of water. That's a lot of groundwater, especially when we're in the midst of a severe drought with no end in sight. But one local business owner says he's found a solution.
Midland man Stanley Weiner has a long family history in the oil business. Over the course of about seven years, he's used that knowledge to design a system that will help solve the oil and gas industry's water problem.
"We've come up with a system that will reclaim anywhere from fifty percent to 85 percent of the water," says Weiner, STW Resources.
After a well is drilled or fraced, thousands of gallons of water can go to waste. But with companies like STW Resources, that water can now be cleaned up and used again. Weiner adds, "It's usable for new fracs. You can actually use it for agriculture or human use if you want to. "
That means more water stays in the ground, and the operator gets the fresh water it needs for a good frac. Seems like a win-win for everyone. So why aren't more companies taking advantage? Well, until now, using reclaimed water simply wasn't economical. But that's no longer the case.
"I teamed up with an engineering group. They've been in water treatment for 35 years," says Weiner. With the help of chemists and engineers from Bob Johnson and Associates, STW is able to reclaim the water used for fracing and drilling in a cost-effective way. "Besides just the technology that is tried and proven, they even have some additional patented technology that they include in the system. Thus, it makes our system be able to put out more fresh water, reclaim more water at a lower cost. "
Weiner says the cost of his service is equal to the cost the operator would pay for fresh ground water. In fact, they may end up spending less.
"A lot of times, the companies have to buy fresh water from 20 or 30 miles away then truck it over to their location. We can be right on location and have fresh water for them there. So we're cutting out a lot of the trucking cost."
If you're in this line of work, you already know that it takes a certain quality of water to get a good frac. So if you're wondering how the reclaimed water compares to fresh ground water, Weiner says that once the water has run through the system, it comes out cleaner that the water that comes out of your tap.
Although it took Weiner seven years to develop this cost efficient, water saving technology, given the fact that we're now in the midst of a drought resulting in water shortages across West Texas, his timing couldn't be more perfect.
To view the other 3 reports in this series, go Mycah's Facebook page - Mycah Glover - KMID.