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HyQ on its way to making thermal treatment economical

The company has shown that thermal technology can address operational and environmental concerns at an appealing price point

Following a successful pilot demonstration of its thermal crystallizer in summer 2019, Oklahoma-based HyQ Technologies is now going through the commercialization process. The company is also finalizing the design of its 800-bbl/d mobile unit, which will complement its 5,000-bbl/d and 10,000-bbl/d systems, allowing it to more flexibly meet its clients’ produced water management needs.

HyQ acquired the technology from another entity in 2017 and quickly began bench testing with the aim of providing a modular, mobile system that could be scaled to meet customers’ evolving operational needs, either at well pads or saltwater disposal wells (SWDs). Another goal was to provide a water treatment solution that could address two of Oklahoma’s pressing challenges: water stress related to a history of drought and induced seismicity associated with reinjection of produced water into SWDs.

“We realized that we needed to differentiate ourselves from clean brine treatments [for oilfield reuse] and focus on developing a freshwater resource,” HyQ CEO Jared Boehs told WiO. He added that the company’s units can recover 50-95% of treated volumes as distilled water, which through proper permitting can then be reused for various applications including irrigation, aquifer recharge and surface discharge.

The concentrated brine resulting from the process can either be recycled in oilfield operations or reinjected into SWDs, providing savings to operators through reduced transport and disposal costs. Brine concentration has the added benefit of freeing up disposal capacity, which is key in areas facing disposal constraints, such as Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas.

HyQ’s thermal crystallizer can achieve zero-liquid discharge (ZLD), though Boehs recommends a minimal liquid discharge (MLD) solution for oil & gas customers in order to avoid the added costs associated with transporting and disposing the solids produced in a ZLD operation.

Regulatory agencies, operators and service providers attended HyQ’s demonstration last year at a commercial SWD facility in the Arkoma Basin. Over the course of four weeks, the company treated more than 2,000 bbls of produced water with total dissolved solids (TDS) ranging from 158,000 mg/l to 192,000 mg/l directly off a pipeline. The distilled water generated from the process had TDS levels below 100 mg/l.

The cost of treating water with HyQ’s technology will vary depending on factors such as produced water TDS levels and the power source used to run the equipment. The company estimates it can achieve an average cost of $1.70/bbl in the Permian and most of the Mid-Continent region by using electricity from a power line. However, costs could reach as low as $1.05/bbl if using field gas to power the equipment.

“We have worked diligently to develop our equipment and a service that can truly reduce operating costs and environmental impacts for operators. Especially after COVID, sustainable alternative solutions are going to be key in meeting clean energy goals,” Boehs concluded.

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