Bonafide Game Changers

By Luke Geiver | December 26, 2013

Two years ago, Mark Johnsrud and Walter Dale met in Houston to talk about the possibility of recycling flowback and produced water created from Williston Basin wells. As the story goes, the discussion points offered by both Johnsrud and Dale as the meeting began were the same. Dale, a water  guru hired by Halliburton in 2011 to lead the global energy service provider’s push to make recycled water technology viable in the shale energy industry, told Johnsrud that every completion engineer he’d spoken with on the subject said a fracture fluid had to be made of freshwater. Johnsrud, the CEO of Nuverra Environmental Solutions, the parent company of Bakken-based logistics giant PowerFuels, reiterated to Dale a similar view. “For as long as we’ve been in this business, we have always been told it had to be freshwater,” Johnsrud explained. 

Earlier this summer, Johnsrud and Dale teamed up on a presentation meant for operators, completion engineers, media members and others in Watford City, N.D.  The presentation came two years after their private meeting in Houston, but the topic of discussion was the same: frack water recycling. The presentation provided basic information on the merits of the joint-effort between Halliburton and Nuverra to make frack water recycling a reality in the Bakken and Three Forks Shale plays. Halliburton has the technology, Dale said then, and Nuverra had the ability to handle, store and provide recycled water, Johnsrud added.

Following that presentation, The Bakken magazine reached out to both parties hoping to learn more about the process that was touted as a major operational game-changer for the Williston Basin. As most of us know, this description is typically product hype, but it can have actual merit, and we wanted to find out what it meant here.

Both Dale and Johnsrud were happy to provide insight and never-before-shared information on frack water recycling, and why it is time to rethink what we know about hydraulic fracturing fluids. This month’s story of Halliburton and Nuverra reveals why technology is only part of the dilemma of converting incredibly salty and traditionally wasted flowback or produced water into a viable vehicle to move proppant and other chemicals downhole during the completion process. It also shows how two companies have invested in the future of the play and, most likely, have changed the frack water game. 

Alliance Pipeline’s 80-mile lateral expansion from Tioga, N.D., to Sherwood, N.D., is also a story about the future of the play. Although a completed pipeline may not garner a high volume of attention, there are many reasons the Alliance Pipeline’s 80-mile project is worth reading about, from the Japanese steel used in the pipe to the non-typical construction process deployed to install the pipeline. The completed pipeline may not be a game changer, and it may only be 80-miles, but it will go a long way in highlighting what it takes to responsibly develop the oil and gas resources of the Williston Basin.