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Short Treatment Trains for Produced Water Reclamation and Reuse: Development and Implications 

Dr. Tzahi Cath, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, July 24th 2020 

Communities and industries around the world are experiencing significant challenges in securing and treating water, reclaiming water from waste streams, and managing brines and residuals generated during treatment and desalination of impaired water. Many industries require large volumes of water for manufacturing of goods or energy, thus competing with communities for limited water resources. Yet, many of these industries lack the knowledge or means to increase water use efficiency and treatment for internal reuse. These challenges are having, and will continue to have, immense impact on societies and ecosystems, and we must continue, with urgency, to explore new ways to prudently manage our water resources. 

Specifically in the upstream oil and gas (O&G) industry, treatment of wastewater generated during O&G exploration and production is critically needed for internal reuse (fracking), environmental protection (before discharge to the environment), and for other advanced reuse applications (irrigation, livestock watering, other industrial uses). The high cost of O&G wastewater treatment, especially during times of low O&G cost, leads operators to dispose produced water and fracturing flowback into deep wells, resulting in seismic activity, or discharge partially treated produced water, which may compromise the environment. 

Membrane processes provide a good treatment solution for this and other industrial wastewaters because of their relatively small footprint, consistent product water quality, and recent advancement in materials used and energy management/recovery in membrane systems. Some membranes have very good desalination capabilities (e.g., reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, membrane distillation), but almost all of them require extensive pretreatment to protect the membranes from fouling or scaling associated with the contaminants present in the feed water. 

In this presentation I will provide an overview of desalination processes and pretreatment (physical and biological) processes that we have investigated in the last seven years for treatment of O&G wastewater and other industrial waters. These include biologically active filters (BAF), membrane bioreactors (MBR), and close-circuit nanofiltration desalination (CCD-NF) for treatment and pretreatment of produced water. The advantages, limitations, and research needs will be highlighted, alongside economic and life cycle assessment of some of these processes. 

Dr. Cath is a professor of environmental engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. His main field of research is membrane and biological processes for wastewater treatment, desalination of saline and hypersaline brines, reclamation of impaired water for potable reuse, and energy from water and wastewater. Dr. Cath is a PI on many research projects focusing on the integration of membrane contactor processes in seawater and brackish water desalination, in domestic and industrial wastewater treatment (including oil & gas wastewater), and in life support systems. Additional research focus is on advanced control system for early detection of system failure, techno-economic analysis and life cycle assessment of water-energy systems, and decision support tools to select efficient and low energy treatment technologies for a broad range of water and wastewater applications. Prof. Cath is the director of the Advanced Water Technology Center (AQWATEC), Co-Director of the Colorado Center for a Sustainable WE2ST, and he holds a joint appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). 

ESG and Water Midstream  

Gerardo Rivera, Chief Operating Officer H2O Midstream,  July 10th 2020 

While the Water Midstream sector is relatively new, ESG or sustainable investing has been around for decades.  Formed in 2016, H2O was founded on the vision that water should be treated as a commodity and not a waste.  H2O has been able to grow its business, while incorporating the important factors of ESG investing. 

Gerardo has 34 years of domestic and international experience in the energy sector, including 23 years with ConocoPhillips where he began his career. At ConocoPhillilps, Gerardo had management assignments in the Upstream and Midstream sectors with exposure to multiple commodities – natural gas, NGLs, LNG, crude oil and heavy oil. His leadership positions focused on operations, engineering, project execution and business and commercial development. 

Prior to joining H2O Midstream, Gerardo served in officer and management roles at Southcross Energy and Vermillion Energy. At Southcross, he was Vice President of NGL Marketing with P&L, operational, and business development responsibilities for the NGL business unit. At Vermillion Energy, a Canadian-based International E&P company, Gerardo served in various leadership roles over corporate and strategic planning; global marketing for crude, natural gas and NGLs; and mergers and acquisitions. 

Gerardo holds a Chemical Engineering degree from Texas A&M University. 

Bridget Scanlon, Ph.D., Senior Research Scientist, Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin.  

Unconventional oil and gas production plays an increasingly important role in U.S. production, accounting for 60% of oil and 70% of gas production in the U.S. in 2018. However, there are increasing concerns about adverse environmental impacts related to water management, including water depletion, induced seismicity, and water contamination. Results show that water use for hydraulic fracturing is highest in the Permian Basin because of the much larger number of wells drilled and high water use per length of well lateral. Hydraulic fracturing water use increased by 10 times in the Permian Basin since 2011. Outlooks, considering varying oil and gas prices, show that water demand in the Permian and Marcellus will reach a maximum in the early 2030 and remain high for decades. 

Duane Germenis - Director of Business Development, VEOLIA Water Technologies 

With the evolution of hydraulic fracturing in the Oil and Gas business over the last several years, there has become an increasing awareness of the potential uses for the produced water that comes with the increased flow of oil and gas production. No longer is produced water looked at as just a waste stream for deep well disposal. In order to treat the produced water effectively, this presentation will look at a few standard technologies currently used today as well as novel new technologies emerging in the market. Discharge technologies as well as recycle/reuse technologies will be explored. The presentation will address produced water treatment systems   developed   by   service   companies, research organizations, universities, and start-up businesses.