Hydraulic reservoir fracturing gas production is growing across the US. Production fields such as the Marcellus, Utica, and Huron basins in the east along with the Haynesville in the south and Bakken in the Dakotas are increasing gas production levels. Fracturing presents several challenges. Water constitutes about 90% of the liquid media used in fracing. Fresh water supplies are often limited and with an increase in environmental, transportation (trucking) controls, the operating companies must incorporate water treatment and reuse into their business model.
The facility formerly known as American Video Glass Co., which was wholly owned and operated by Sony Corp. had been in operation in Mt. Pleasant, PA for several decades before closing its doors in 2004. The facility was sold to Commonwealth Renewable Energy Inc. in 2006 who planned on using the facility to produce ethanol. That project fell through in 2008 and in 2009 the plant was permitted and converted to treat water from the Marcellus Shale gas fraction fields. The rehabilitated pant was opened in April 2010.
Challenges of restoration
Andy Kicinski,P.E. President and CEO of Reserved Environmental Services, LLC (RES) realized the plants potential for treating the fracing water. Working with Bob Vlah from PCF Sales Corp., Kicinski was able to put the needed equipment together to get the plant up and running. "This plant was shut down for half of a decade before Andy took it over," says Vlah. "The plant had dead animals in it and rusting machinery, broken piping, pumps and instrumentation cluttering the facility grounds." Mr. Kicinski was faced with remediating an abandoned water treatment facility left without proper decommissioning for potential reuse as anything yet to treat frac water.
Kicinski, having 25 years experience as a consultant and working at US Filter, put together the plan for refurbishing the treatment plant. The drilling fluids (fracing liquid) arrive on trucks which unload into large holding tanks. The wastewater is then chemically treated for metals and removal of other pollutants within large clarifier tanks. From there a seepex BN 35-12 Progressive Cavity Pumps move the clarifier underflow or sludge to a proprietary dewatering system designed by Kicinski.
Why a PC pump?
Having worked with seepex in the past at his first treatment facility in West Virginia, Kicinski was familiar with the Progressive Cavity pump and its advantages. The PC pump consists of a single-helix metal rotor turning inside a double-helix elastomeric stator. The cavities transport fluid without shearing or emulsification. The sealing line between the rotor and stator separates each cavity, and handles solids, liquids, gases or any combination of the three.
The clarifier underflow often contains high salt liquids and very abrasive solids (sand) content. For the use in the RES treatment plant, the pumps also needed to be chemical resistant to a 120,000ppm chloride content. Therefore, the rotor and all other wetted parts were machined from "duplex" stainless steel. The pump also has a Hastelloy mechanical seal in order to withstand the higher corrosion levels and the rotor was "ductile" chromium coated to withstand the increased abrasion seen in this type of application. Kicinski also ordered several BN 2-6L's for pumping Flocculants.
Vlah says, "seepex is continuing to innovate its product line, and has several innovations that are helping the fracing industry". seepex PC Pumps with the compact evenwall BN design will produce the same pressure as four-stage pumps, however, they are much smaller and less expensive than other designs. These pumps can be outfitted to use a standard hydraulic motor, so down time is minimal. These pumps are also used on oil & gas completion, water well drilling and grouting rigs. The pumps are also be used to pump explosive emulsions into drill holes for blasting. seepex not only services plants such as Kicinski's dedicated treatment facility. They are also able to provide support with on-site and mobile treatment systems.
Strategically located near both the Marcellus and Utica shale projects, seepex supports all pumping aspects of shale operations such as: Flowback / Produced Water Treatment, Chemical Metering, Sludge Treatment, Sludge Feed, Solids Handling, Drilling Mud Cleaning, Shaker Underflow, Desanders / Desilters (discharge), centrifuge discharge and Grout pumping.
"Trucks are arriving from a 60 miles radius, but we have had trucks delivering water from as far as 80 miles away," says Kicinski. The treatment plant has a 30,000 barrel per day (1.2mgd) capacity and a 30 min unloading/recycle process turnaround time. Reserved Environmental Services is a zero liquid discharge facility where 100% of the treated water is returned to the shale gas production field. The pumps have been in trouble-free service since April 2010, supporting one of the fastest growing shale gas production basins in the country.
"We intend to use seepex for all future projects. We have two additional field plants planned this year," says Kicinski. "The new plants will be smaller than our Mt. Pleasant facility and will be located near the gas productions fields."