In an environmentally safe, less costly, and efficient manner, the disposal and recycling of millions of gallons of production water (brine water) and flowback water generated from the oil and gas industry annually continue to be challenging. While new technologies are on the horizon, there remains a long road ahead to their implementation.
In his article in Geosynthetic News, Neil Nowak writes in detail about three sites in Wyoming, Utah, and Texas that are evaporating or recycling water in geomembrane-lined ponds. Nowak’s article demonstrates the successful use of black high-density polyethylene (HDPE) liners to increase evaporation over clay or unlined ponds and using a white liner to reduce evaporation relative to a black liner.
Each project has been operational for several years; they continue to expand under their permits. Nowak takes us through a combination of favorable factors to the evaporative process, including the natural characteristics of each sites’ climate and the business and environmental goals.
The projects are interesting in that each facility provides oil and gas production companies in the area with a large commercial alternative to production water and flowback disposal versus numerous small ponds or disposal via injection wells.
About the Author: over 30 years of experience in the consulting engineering industry, including civil, solid waste, produced water impoundments, stormwater engineering, and construction projects.
Mr. Nowak has managed environmental compliance, evaporation pond design and permitting, and construction quality assurance activities across the Southwest. As a land-use planner and Environmental Engineer, he explains how various environmental technologies work under specific conditions to companies and the public. Often he is called to public comment meetings and county commissioner meetings, where he prepares and presents project details for review and approval. He works closely with local, state, and federal regulatory agencies to ensure that the engineering and construction of sites comply with all current applicable requirements.
An SCS Engineers Technical Bulletin will be released early in the week.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued limits on methane emissions from oil and gas wells that are more stringent than those it proposed last year. The final regulations released on Thursday, May 12, 2016, will add hundreds of millions in additional costs per year; at least 25 percent higher than the preliminary version published in August 2015.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told reporters on a conference call that the mandates, applying immediately to new and modified wells, are a “critical first step in tackling methane emissions from existing oil and gas sources.”
Under the rule, companies must upgrade pumps and compressors while expanding the use of “green completion” technology meant to capture the surge of gas that can spring out of newly fracked wells. Such green completion techniques have been required for new and modified natural gas wells since 2015, but Thursday’s rule would broaden the requirement to oil wells too.
Take me to the EPA summaries. Click on the information sheets listed below: