News9’s “Hot Seat” – Evaporation technology offers alternative to wastewater injection
Published: June 8th, 2015
OKLAHOMA CITY – Technology that could eliminate the need for most waste water injection wells in oil and gas production is featured in a short program that will be televised Saturday morning and then posted on the Internet.
An Oklahoma company has developed an “evaporation technology” which it claims can reduce almost all of the waste water from energy production to water vapor and dried salt.
David Hill, president and chief operating officer of Logic Energy Solutions, discussed the technology with moderator Scott Mitchell on “The Hot Seat” program regularly broadcast on an Oklahoma City TV station.
“Many years ago some very smart guys saw a need to do something different” to get rid of the saltwater generated during oil/gas production, Hill told Mitchell.
Many oil formations in this state generate an average of approximately 10 barrels of produced water for each barrel of crude oil pumped out of the ground.
Currently this waste water is hauled away in tanker trucks and is pumped deep underground in injection wells.
The Oklahoma Corporation Commission has issued permits for approximately 4,500 Class II waste water disposal wells in this state; on average, about 3,200 of those wells are in operation in any given year, OCC Public Information Manager Matt Skinner said.
Dr. Kyle Murray of the Oklahoma Geological Survey, after poring over Corporation Commission records, reported that in 2011 saltwater disposal wells in Oklahoma accepted 891.9 million barrels of waste water. Since a barrel is 42 gallons, that means almost 37.5 billion gallons of fluid were injected underground that year.
Corporation Commission ledgers indicate 1.088 billion barrels of waste water (45.7 billion gallons) from oil and gas production were pumped underground into disposal wells in 2012. And 1.1 billion barrels of oil patch fluids (46.2 billion gallons) were pumped into disposal wells in 2013.
Logic ES has been working on “something more economically and environmentally sensitive” than underground injection of that waste water, Hill said. Logic’s equipment “can evaporate the water, leaving behind the minerals” and water vapor.
Logic’s patented process heats the water to 190 degrees. Although it’s below the boiling point, that temperature results in “pretty much instantaneous” evaporation of the water, which can either escape as vapor or be piped through a condenser and converted into purified water, Hill said. The equipment is designed to evaporate up to 90% of the produced water on-site, the company claims.
That water can be recycled for beneficial reuses such as crop irrigation or for further energy production, Hill said.
What’s left behind is a “mineral cake” of magnesium, calcium and salt (see attached photo), naturally occurring minerals that are brought to the surface in the water along with the crude oil.
The “cake” can be disposed of in a landfill, Hill said. However, he added, Logic ES contends that the “cake” ultimately will have value, too, since it contains minerals. “Our vision is ‘no waste stream’,” he said. The system is “clean, efficient and economical.”
Logic’s equipment is portable, he said. It can be moved from one well site to another, or can be positioned at a central gathering site.
The company has two models: a 120-barrel per day unit and a 750-barrel per day unit. To increase production volume, the evaporator heads can be linked in a daisy chain, Hill said, “depending upon whatever production need the producer has.”
For example, two large units can be connected to form a 1,500-barrel unit.
Logic Energy Solutions has had an evaporation system operating in western Oklahoma, near Butler, for the past two years, Hill said.
Another potential benefit of the evaporation technology might be a reduction in earthquakes.
Extensive scientific research indicates there is a direct correlation between waste water injected deep underground and the dramatic increase in earthquakes in Oklahoma since 2009.
It is believed that the waste water is lubricating subterranean faults.
U.S. Geological Survey data reflect that Oklahoma experienced an average of fewer than two magnitude-3 temblors per year for 30 years, from 1978 through 2008. The USGS recorded 1,028 ‘quakes in Oklahoma in 2012, of which 35 were m-3≥. Last year the USGS logged 5,417 earthquakes in Oklahoma, and 585 of them were m-3≥.
“The Hot Seat” is a 10-minute program that airs Saturdays at 7:50 a.m. on KWTV-9 in Oklahoma City.
Afterward the show is uploaded to the Internet at www.news9.com/yourvotecounts.
NOTE: This is adapted from a release provided by state House Democratic media staff.