As reported in the Water Desalination Report – 11 July 2016
Houston-based Water Standard has successfully executed a contract for an Ultrapure Water Package for a major international oil company. The package will be installed on a 175,000 barrel-per-day floating production system located in deepwater, Gulf of Mexico. The package – which consists of an RO system, Water Standard’s proprietary MDA (membrane deaeration) system and a continuous electrodeionization (CEDI) unit – will provide high purity water for the platform’s boiler feedwater system.
The compact, skid mounted package was manufactured and tested in Water Standard’s Houston fabrication facility, and according to Mark Legg, the company’s Senior Commercial Vice President, is the first of its kind on an offshore platform.
“Not only was the entire system designed to meet Class 1, Division, 2 specifications for operation in hazardous environment, it must produce water with a specific conductivity of less than 0.10 µS/cm and the MDA’s membrane contactors must continuously remove dissolved oxygen to less than 10 ppb without chemical oxygen scavengers,” said Legg.
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Water Standard is pleased to present Upstream Technology Magazine’s article featuring Water Standard and the development of compact Membrane Deaeration Technology (MDA) to remove dissolved oxygen from injection water. This article, which was published in the 10/2015 edition of Upstream Technology is protected by copyright. Click the image below to read the full story.
Booms, busts, and the next big thing
Water needs to keep looking beyond the horizon, says Amanda Brock.
Water industry players are eternal optimists with short memories. Looking at the global macroeconomics of water scarcity and infrastructure needs, who can blame us? Any logical person would conclude that there is big money to be made and invested. Consider California – one would assume that opportunities abound for smart water companies and investors. However, while there is growth in certain niche segments, there remain few viable options for the private sector to develop and fund long-term sustainable solutions. Water is not always about logic.
The American Water Works Association just published its 2015 Annual State of the Water Industry Report, which again concludes that infrastructure challenges top the list of concerns, and questions how to finance critical infrastructure. AWWA estimates $1 trillion is needed in investment to replace and expand US water and wastewater infrastructure. The reality, however, is that the municipal market has not developed as hoped, and continues to disappoint private sector investors. While the lack of opportunities has driven certain players to exit the market, the sheer magnitude of investment required is so tantalising that they are quickly replaced by fresh players keen to crack the code.
With the hurdles facing the growth of the municipal sector, many hoped that the “next big thing” in water would be water treatment in the unconventional oil and gas sector. But as rapidly as the market grew, it then contracted. Many water and oil field service companies which made significant investments in the sector are scrambling to redefine their focus. While the energy industry is used to dramatic boom and bust cycles, water players are not, and this sort of volatility has hit them particularly hard.
To compound the problem, the US Environmental Protection Agency has now published its long-awaited draft report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing, concluding that frac’ing has not led to widespread systemic impacts on drinking water sources. This result will further delay investment in water treatment in the unconventional energy sector. Only those companies with strong balance sheets, well-defined channels to market and a diverse product and client base, or those with proven, commercialised technologies that lower costs, will survive in the longer term.
So what now? We do what we always do: try to ignore the disappointments and look for the “next big thing” to get excited about.
Players are now rushing to position themselves in the growing industrial and power sectors, fuelled by the availability of cheap energy. Power utilities now see themselves as the next big water players, capable of taking advantage of their access to the retail market, their own water needs, their ability to co-locate power, water treatment facilities and desalination plants and, most promisingly, delivering behind-the-fence, multi-commodity services to industrial clients. Allete, a Minnesota- based power utility, recently bought U.S. Water Services, an integrated industrial water management company, in order to gain access to the industrial sector, and more M&A activity is predicted.
Desalination is all the buzz in Texas, and companies are arriving in droves touting their references and establishing offices. Curiously, European players are looking to expand into the US and Mexico, while US players are looking to expand globally. Meanwhile, all is not lost in the oil and gas water treatment sector. There is continued growth in water treatment for enhanced oil recovery, smart water injection and produced water treatment, recycling, and waste minimisation, while a mid-stream sector is beginning to emerge.
Overall, we should be cautious and consider the implications of the markets that have not developed as anticipated, and consider lessons learned. Making money and succeeding in the water sector is hard. But what makes us unique in water is the very fact that we have short memories and are always looking forward. As eternal optimists, we remain convinced that we will always be the ones to find the “next big thing.”
Water Standard is proud to announce that Lisa Henthorne has co-authored the article, “State-of-the-art of reverse osmosis desalination pretreatment.” This in-depth look at the current innovative pretreatment technologies for fouling control is published in Desalination Journal and can be accessed for free until January 29, 2015. Visit ScienceDirect – no sign up necessary.
Click HERE to Read Article
Regulatory confusion reigns…but that may turn out to be good news for a water industry looking for opportunities in the onshore energy industry, argues Amanda Brock.
One thing is clear, environmental regulations have not kept up with the explosive growth of the US onshore energy industry. The regulatory process is moving at a glacial pace and is playing catch-up with an industry where speed and efficiency translates to success. Despite the absence of clear regulatory guidelines, oil and gas operators concerned with increased stress on surface and ground water supplies, continue to evaluate alternatives to better manage water throughout the hydrocarbon production lifecycle. That means opportunities for water treatment and technology companies. However, the challenge remains: where and how can water companies build a sustainable business in this sector? The recent actions of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may provide some insights.
First a little history is needed here. Dick Cheney, who had previously headed the giant oil field service company Halliburton, is viewed as leading the charge under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to exclude hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act except where diesel fuels are concerned. The US Congress at the time also gave the oil and gas industry other exemptions from environmental regulations, including the Clean Water Act (CWA). These exemptions are sometimes referred to as the ‘Halliburton loopholes’. There is momentum building to find ways to eliminate or undermine these existing loopholes and the EPA is central to this effort.
While the EPA continues to delay its much-anticipated report on the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources, it recently issued a series of reports and proposed rules relating to water use and the discharge of wastewater in energy production. These regulations and proposals, while designed to eliminate uncertainty, muddy the waters.
The EPA, for example, has now released proposed rules to clarify what US waters are covered by the CWA. One of the main goals of the revisions is to identify water bodies which have a significant “nexus” to waters currently covered by the CWA and to then evaluate these other waters on a case-by-case basis. The inherent uncertainty of what new waters are now covered has many accusing the EPA of dramatically expanding federal authority over state and private water rights. These rules, if promulgated, will have a definite impact on how energy companies will source surface water and site their production facilities.
The EPA has also released two reports on waste generated by oil and gas production and concludes that the federal government should encourage the development of additional and improved best practices. Produced water is the largest oil and gas production waste stream with more than 21 billion barrels generated annually in the US. However, waste from oil and gas operations falls under one of the loopholes and is currently largely exempt from federal waste regulations. This will change at some point and any changes will directly impact the treatment and disposal of produced water.
The emphasis for oil and gas operators has to be improved self-sufficiency, while efficiently managing the water life cycle using primarily either brackish water for as long as it is not further regulated, or recycled produced water. The opportunity for water companies will be in developing solutions for sourcing, managing, treating, recycling and minimising the disposal of the huge volumes of brackish and produced water needed, as cost effectively as possible.
The EPA’s website identifies all of its areas of concern such as the impact of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water, ensuring the safe disposal of related wastes, underground injection of waste disposal fluids, and use of surface ponds. The EPA concludes that recycling has “the potential to reduce discharges…minimise underground injection of wastewater and conserve water resources”. That’s about as certain as the EPA is going to get right now, but provides guidance the water industry should consider.
Lisa Henthorne presented at the IDA Banff Conference on Water Recycling and Desalination for the Oil & Gas Industry in March. To see the presentation that she gave based on a paper written by her and Holly Johnson of Water Standard, click here.