AOP Clearwater to Use Evaporation for Gas Well Drilling Brine

The State Journal
20 February 2009
By Pam Kasey

MORGANTOWN -- AOP Clearwater LLC of Frazeysburg, Ohio, plans to open a water-recycling facility for gas well drilling brine in Marion County by July.

The facility will use a multi-effect evaporation process to produce water and salt, explained John Keeling for AOP.

The process will settle, filter, evaporate and distill the brine to return 80 percent of the volume clean for re-use, Keeling said, and will solidify the remainder to leave primarily salt behind.

AOP currently plans to landfill the salt but also is looking into marketing it for road application or for industrial use. One of AOP's services is a monitoring system.

"We'll track where water comes from. If a producer . uses 80,000 barrels (injected underground to fracture rock and release natural gas), we'll be able to tell you when that 80,000 has come out," said Louis Bonasso, president of AOP Clearwater and Appalachian Oil Purchasers.

"It's not just cleaning water," he added. "It's an efficiency gain for producers, and it's an administrative gain for those who eventually will have to report these numbers."

Bonasso currently estimates a cost, with return of 80 percent of the water, of $6 per 42-gallon barrel, or about 14.3 cents per gallon. The cost without return is $5 per barrel or about 12 cents/gallon. The estimates are for treatment only and do not include hauling.

For comparison, a portable, on-site reverse osmosis treatment system for gas well drilling brine unveiled in September 2008 by NGInnovations of South Charleston also leaves 80 percent of the water clean for re-use. It was expected at the time to handle a producer's brine from around $2 per barrel when there's an underground injection well on site for the remainder to up to $10 per barrel for hauling the water some distance - 4.8 to 23.8 cents/gallon.

In a separate comparison, the Clarksburg wastewater treatment plant is treating gas well drilling brine for 2.2 cents/gallon, or 92 cents/barrel. The producer pays to haul the water, and the price does not return treated water for re-use. That plant's capacity is limited; in December, it was accepting 50,000 gallons/day.

Bonasso said the Marion County AOP facility, to be located 2.5 miles from Exit 37 of Interstate 79, will be able to process 5,000 barrels or 210,000 gallons/day. He said there is land at that site to triple the size of the facility, and he would like to expand further based on the needs of the oil and gas community.

He claims it is the "first plant of its kind" and said that EQT, formerly Equitable Production, is its cornerstone customer.