Halliburton unveils frack water recycling process for Bakken

By Luke Geiver | August 14, 2013

Walter Dale, strategic business manager of water management services for global energy service provider Halliburton, has made a career out of water. “Everywhere I go I talk to people about water,” he said during a recent presentation in Watford City, N.D., offered to potential clients on Halliburton’s new technology and logistical approach to recycling and reusing produced water created during the hydraulic fracturing process.

Dale outlined the Halliburton-led process that could drastically reduce the amount of fresh water needed to fracture a well in the Bakken or Three Forks Formation of the Williston Basin. The process, H20Forward, can recycle produced water created during the fracturing process, allowing for the nearly unlimited reuse of water used to move proppant into the well fractures. The recycling system is based on two main processes: electrocoagulation and ultraviolet light bacteria control.

The electrocagulation process removes colloidal mater present in a produced water stream by releasing positively charged ions into the water that attach to negatively charged ions that are bonded to the colloidal matter. Gas bubbles are able to push the newly charged ions connected to the colloidal matter to the surface, leaving clear water suitable for drilling and well completions behind.

The UV bacteria control process step in the recycling system helps to reduce bacteria growth in produced water. According to Halliburton, the bacteria growth can lead to the corrosion of iron or steel while also harming the fracture fluid by thinning out the water. The UV process helps to control bacteria and reduce the need for biocides, agents used to treat aerobic and anaerobic bacteria that become present in the fresh water pumped down below the earth’s surface.

 According to Dale, the process treats recycled water just enough to maintain a water capable of reuse in a frac fluid mixture. “They’ve always said you need a good quality water [for frac fluid mixtures] and now we are saying you don’t,” Dale said. The trademarked H20Forward process offers several advantages, Dale said, including: effective water treatment, fluid formulation, effective biocide use and efficient logistical engineering for well construction. To date, the process has been tested and proven on 600 million gallons of frack water in both Texas and North Dakota.

The process not only reduces the need for fresh water, it also helps reduce water costs for production teams. Dale estimates that water costs for wells in the Williston Basin total nearly $16 per barrel. The Halliburton process however, can lower the costs significantly, Dale said, depending on the amount of water recycled by each client. For some clients, water costs per well could be reduced by $100,000 to $500,000.

Nuverra Environmental Solutions has partnered with Halliburton to provide water handling and storage services for clients who choose to recycle their produced water. Centrally located depots will be put in place in appropriate locations for all clients, or, according to Mark Johnsrud, CEO of Nuverra, locations can be set-up for clients located at far distances from other central water processing depots. Nuverra will use frac tanks to store recycled water, and Johnsrud estimates there are roughly seven to eight clients already interested or signed up to use the process.

According to Dale, the costs for managing water related to hydraulic fracturing are roughly $51 billion annually.