A Local Solution to Marcellus Shale Wastewater Concerns?


Nice article in today’s Observer-Reporter by Michael Bradwell about a new mobile water treatment system that can be taken on-site to process waste water from Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling. The technology and process we saw yesterday was being developed by Aquatech, a local company with 30 years experience in the water treatment industry. For more information on their MoVap technology, click here.

I toured Aquatech a couple of months ago and was very impressed with their approach and commitment to dealing with the unique challenges our region is facing as the natural gas industry continues to expand and develop. As these new environmentally-friendly processes and technologies emerge, I hope the natural gas industry will make the necessary investment and take full advantage.

Here are some pics of yesterday’s event, and Michael Bradwell’s article is in its entirety below.

Mobile water system could reduce truck traffic at gas sites

8/16/2011 3:33 AM

MASONTOWN – Officials of Aquatech International on Monday showed an operating model of their new portable water treatment system that promises to drastically reduce water consumption and truck traffic at gas well drilling sites.

The Canonsburg-based company, a global leader in the development of wastewater recycling, reuse and treatment, showed its new MoVap wastewater treatment solution for shale gas operations during a demonstration with Shallenberger Construction, which owns and operates the Ronco industrial wastewater treatment plant on the banks of the Monongahela River in Masontown.

The plant recycles wastewater from several area gas drilling wells, then returns it to trucks that haul it back to drillers for reuse at other drill sites.

George Milne, Shallenberger’s manager for the treatment site, said that while the plant, which opened in April 2010, provides recycled, reusable water, adding Aquatech’s MoVap unit takes the process a step further, enabling the production of pure, distilled water.

“We have never released wastewater into the Mon River,” Milne told the audience. While it returns everything it processes to the drillers for reuse, Milne said later that Aquatech’s technology means that the water could be returned to the river.

Milne, who noted the site recycles between 250,000 and 300,000 gallons during a 10-hour day, said the volume would require a larger Aquatech unit if the plant wanted to commercially distill the water it now recycles.

While Shallenberger hasn’t purchased the system, it is operating the unit as a demonstration for the state Department of Environmental Protection and to show other drilling companies its capabilities.

Venkee Sharma, chief executive officer of Aquatech, told a group of about 60 public officials, media members and others that MoVap, which was in development for about 18 months at the company’s Canonsburg headquarters, can be “a game-changer” in enabling gas drillers in the Marcellus Shale to recycle and reuse water for drilling on-site.

The portable units, which can be hauled by tractor-trailer from site to site, provide an environmental solution by providing a high-quality wastewater treatment that delivers consistent treated-water quality. The technology would also drastically reduce the volume of truck traffic to drilling sites, he said.

“We have seen a tremendous amount of interest in MoVap from people throughout government and private industry,” Sharma said. “But when they have had the chance to see this innovative water treatment solution up close, it has surpassed their expectations.”

Sharma said following the tour that the MoVap system can be used as an individual portable unit on a drilling site, multiplied to act as a hub-and-spoke system for water treatment at multiple-pad sites or, as was demonstrated Monday, can act as a central unit for processing large volumes of wastewater.

The technology is a direct descendent of wastewater systems that Aquatech has designed through more than 1,000 projects in 60 countries. Globally, the company’s technologies are responsible for treating more than 600,000 barrels of produced water per day with a focus on treated water, desalination, water reuse and zero liquid discharge.

“We’ve taken our time-proven solutions across the oil and gas industry for 25 years and scaled them down for a mobile application,” Sharma said.

State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsburg, told those touring the unit that while he and other legislators have been working to support the economic benefits being provided by the Marcellus Shale, “one headache we’ve had to deal with are some of the environmental impacts” created by the drilling.

He said Monday’s demonstration showed that technology can provide an answer to the water challenge faced by drillers, which require millions of gallons of water for the hydraulic fracturing process.

State Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, added that Aquatech is an example of a local company providing a solution to a local challenge.

Ron Schwartz, assistant regional director for the DEP’s Pittsburgh office, noted that while the technology being demonstrated isn’t new, “it tells me there’s a lot of support from within the industry.”

Sharma did not provide a cost figure for the MoVap unit but said it would enable a drilling company to reduce its water management costs by between 20 and 25 percent.

He said Aquatech has six MoVap units in production. Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

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