The petroleum industry has multiple settings in which water treatment is either essential, could get legislated, or simply is good business. Detailed below is a sampling of these and the BioLargo approaches to addressing them.
A majority of gas wells in the US utilize hydraulic fracturing to stimulate the production. A number of these are in drought areas and so access to fresh water is an issue and alternative sources must be found. Shale gas prospects, due to their location, generally do not have this issue. But they have issues with disposal of flow back water and produced water. In both cases the principal hurdles to re-use in fracturing operations are dissolved solids, bacteria and in some cases, radioactive elements. The bacteria in particular are pernicious. If returned to the reservoir, they are prone to multiply and produce H2S and other harmful species. The BioLargo platform technology CupriDyne(TM)-SAP is uniquely suited. It will eradicate bacteria and sop up heavy metals and radioactive elements. It does so by the controlled release of the powerful oxidant Iodine in stable molecular form. This environmentally friendly element does the job at small doses. The reaction products can easily be harvested. Another feature of the technology is that it simply combines with other needed water treatment steps such as filtration and desalination.
The Saline Aquifer Opportunity:
In some areas water wells are being drilled to supply the fracturing operation. In a nod to the environmental issues service companies are making fracturing fluids increasingly tolerant of chlorides. They are already at 40,000 ppm and one can expect that shortly to extend to 80,000 ppm. This means that certain saline aquifers become fair game for becoming the water of opportunity. However, they could well have contaminants such as bacteria and metals that would need to be removed. In these cases the BioLargo solutions may well be all that are needed. In some cases competition for water withdrawals could completely go away, with far reaching consequences to community acceptance of gas production as a neighbor.
Heavy Oil Operations and Associated Refining:
Heavy oil operations, both mining and SAGD, use vast quantities of water. In the latter case recycling is by and large practiced. In the former, the water waste is a major environmental issue. Both of these can be addressed with CupriDyne(TM)-SAP technology. Also, heavy oils often have a component of naphthenic acid. Refinery neutralization with KOH still yields a water waste with less than acceptable acid concentration. Naphthenic acid, as also all other carboxylic acids, are amenable to oxidation and removal with BioLargo technologies.
The world annually produces about 4 trillion gallons of water associated with petroleum production. When possible it is reinjected at a cost. Sometimes it is used for water floods, although bacterial action has been noted as reducing the efficacy. Clean up and use of this water represents an opportunity. Again, salinity is the principal hurdle. There could also be metals, some of them valuable if harvested. In a majority of instances one could expect bacteria removal to be important. This may especially be the case if the water is destined for non oilfield use. BioLargo technologies very effectively piggy back on desalination processes and would render the water free of bacteria and metals if any.