Reclaiming Drilling Water in an Environmentally Friendly Way

HBC Systems, a newly created joint venture between Hydration Technology Innovations (HTI) and Bear Creek Services (BCS), has launched the Bear Creek Green Machine, an environmentally friendly water-reclamation process for the oil and gas industry.

The Bear Creek Green Machine is an energy-efficient system for recycling the millions of gallons of fresh water used daily in the oil and gas drilling process. The system incorporates HTI’s proprietary forward-osmosis-membrane technology into a portable and scalable oilfield wastewater reclamation system. The Green Machine provides drilling operators with an alternative to reclaim their wastewater for reuse.

“The Green Machine’s technology will revolutionize wastewater reclamation,” says Walt Schultz, CEO of HTI and a director of HBC Systems. “It is better for both operators and the environment. It eliminates the costly transport and disposal of contaminated reserve pit water while simultaneously reducing the need for gas drillers to source and transport additional fresh water to the well site. The net result is significant cost savings to operators and a decrease in negative environmental impacts.”

In its initial market test, HBC Systems first made the Green Machine water reclamation system and services available in 2009 to oil and gas exploration and production companies drilling for natural gas in the Haynesville Shale in northern Louisiana and east Texas, primarily for the reclamation of reserve pit water left behind from the drilling process. After the successful tests last year, the Green Machine mobile units are ready for full-scale implementation nationwide.

The mobile units process wastewater at rates in excess of 100 gallons per minute. With two machines fully operational and five more under construction, HBC Systems will rapidly add and deploy additional units to other markets, such as the Marcellus Shale, which stretches from Virginia to New York, and the Barnett Shale in Texas.

“We chose the name ‘Green Machine’ because of the significant improvement this new technology offers to environmental impact,” says Dr. Nathan Hutchings, COO and president of BCS, a diversified provider of engineering and well site supervision, environmental consulting, trucking, fluid management and petrochemical services, and president of HBC Systems. “It is the most eco-friendly water reclamation system available. Not only do the units operate with a carbon footprint that is less than any competing technologies, they also eliminate the high carbon footprint of drill water disposal and transportation.”

The forward-osmosis process of the Green Machine is powered using a concentrated salt solution that typically is already located at the well site. The concentrated salt is used by most operators and combined with fresh water in the creation of completion fluid used for the hydraulic fracturing process. The Green Machine filters and recycles contaminated reserve pit wastewater to create a completion fluid in a single-step process without consuming large quantities of energy.

Large Oil and Natural Gas Discovery

McMoRan Epxloration Co. announces what it says could be one of the largest oil and natural gas discoveries in the shallow waters of the Gulf of Mexico in decades.

McMoRan, working with Energy XXI, made the discovery at the Davy Jones ultra-deep prospect, located on the South Marsh Island Block 230 in about 20 feet of water and 10 miles off the Louisiana coast. The Davy Jones prospect covers 20,000 acres.

The well was drilled to 28,263 feet, and found a 135-foot column of hydrocarbon-filled sands in the Wilcox section of the Eocene and Paleocene geologic trends. That puts the estimated size of the discovery close to 2 trillion cubic feet of resources, rivaling some oil and gas discoveries in the deep-water Gulf.

The find is notable not only because of its size, but also because it is located in a section of the Gulf believed to be largely tapped out. The discovery taps into what McMoRan believes is a large zone of energy-bearing sands located so deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico seabed that traditional wells have not reached it. The possibility that such a vast rich zone exists raises hope for exploration throughout the Gulf, which has seen drilling activity decline in recent years.

But drilling to such great depths isn’t easy. Seismic data can be less reliable at those depths, and the drilling itself is technologically challenging, risky and expensive. The roughly 10 wells that McMoRan will drill to bring its Davy Jones prospect into production are expected to cost approximately $100 million each.

Neal Dingmann, an analyst with Wunderlich Securities in Houston, expects the find to generate new interest in drilling to depths of between 12,000 feet and 29,000 feet beneath the ocean floor. Dingmann states that because of the expense and planning that go along with Gulf of Mexico projects, it could take several years for an uptick in interest to play out. As of late January, according to McMoRan Exploration Co., the Davy Jones ultra-deep well had been drilled from 28,263 feet to 28,603 feet, and the well had been logged with pipe-conveyed wireline logs to 28,530 feet. The wirelog results indicate a new hydrocarbon-bearing sand that totaled 65 net feet. A porosity log will be necessary to quantify the porosity in this new sand member, and flow will be required to confirm the ultimate hydrocarbon flow rates from the well.