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News in brief

A roundup of the main developments regarding water in the oil & gas industry for September 26-October 30.

SOUTH AMERICA

ExxonMobil reached a final investment decision on the offshore Payara field development, the third project sanctioned for Guyana’s Stabroek block. To start up in 2024, the 220,000-bbl/d Prosperity FPSO will be tied to 20 production wells and 21 injections wells. ExxonMobil will conduct a study to determine whether to reinject produced water or discharge it overboard. Alistair Routledge, president of the super-major’s local subsidiary, favors overboard discharge to avoid potential problems related to water chemistry incompatibility downhole. 

NORTH AMERICA

A pipeline operated by Canada’s Husky Energy spilled at least 500 m3 (3,145 bbl) of produced water near Rainbow Lake, Alberta. Husky has taken the pipeline offline and commenced cleanup operations. According to the Alberta Energy Regulator, the spill has been contained to a low-lying muskeg and no wildlife impacts have been reported.

The Department of Energy (DoE) announced 19 winners of Phase 1 of its four-stage, $9 million Solar Desalination Prize. Of the winning teams, at least seven explicitly mentioned produced water in their submissions. The DoE received 162 applications in total. Phase 1 winners will receive $50,000 and move on to Phase 2, in which they will form teams. Winners of that stage will be announced January 12, 2021.

Occidental Petroleum and the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium will work together on produced water technology testing in the Permian Basin. The partnership aims to produce operational and cost data related to the development of advanced treatment technology that could allow for beneficial reuse projects to move forward. Under the agreement, Occidental will provide consortium members access to select production and storage sites for field pilots.

Following a petition from environmental group WildEarth Guardians, New Mexico’s Oil Conservation Commission voted 2-1 to hold a hearing on a proposed rule to make produced water spills explicitly illegal. The hearing is set for April 1, 2021.

NGL Water Solutions commissioned the 30-inch Poker Lake Express Pipeline, which can flow more than 350,000 bbl/d of produced water from XTO Energy’s Poker Lake asset in Eddy County, New Mexico. NGL said in a press statement that it expects to add another pipeline to expand total takeaway capacity to 700,000 bbl/d in line with Poker Lake’s development. The company also secured two new contracts with an unnamed Delaware Basin super-major: one for water supply and another minimum volume commitment for produced water gathering, which will take effect at the start of 2021.

Encore Green Environmental kicked off Wyoming’s first beneficial reuse project using treated produced water for agricultural irrigation. The company is now using third-party technology to treat produced water which it will discharge in batches under a permit granted by the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (WDEQ).

The WDEQ finalized a produced water discharge permit renewal for Aethon Energy following months of delay and protests by several community and environmental groups. Aethon had sought to expand its discharge volume in line with new drilling at the Moneta Divide field, but was instead granted a permit with the same volume and TDS limits stipulated in its previous permit – about 47,620 bbl/d with a maximum of 908 tons of TDS per month. The new permit also requires Aethon to reduce chloride levels in its discharge from an average of 2,200 mg/L to 230 mg/L by September 1, 2024.

Texas submitted its request to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to receive state delegation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program. If approved, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality would have authority to grant NPDES permits for the discharge of produced water and other eligible waste streams into surface water. A 45-day comment period will follow, and the EPA is expected to make its decision within 90 days.

Water midstream company Blackbuck Resources (BBR) acquired operator Cimarex Energy’s White City produced water infrastructure in Eddy County, New Mexico. The deal, whose value is undisclosed, adds to BBR’s asset portfolio 100,000 bbl/d of installed/permitted disposal capacity and 65 miles of pipeline. BBR also secured a 15-year acreage dedication covering 40,000 acres.

Breakwater Energy Partners completed its 250,000-bbl/d Big Spring Recycling System, where produced water from multiple operators will be gathered and treated for reuse in the field. The facility also has access to more than 100,000 bbl/d of disposal capacity.

Solaris Water Midstream brought its 300,000-bbl/d Eddy State Complex recycling facility online in New Mexico. The company said in a press release that it plans to complete two other recycling facilities before the end of the year, taking its total recycling capacity to 900,000 bbl/d and total storage to more than 3 million bbls across five Permian Basin complexes.

Through its acquisition of Woody Creek Midstream, Bison obtained a +15-year produced water gathering contract with Casillas Petroleum Resource Partners. In the same press release, Bison also announced its expanded acreage dedication with Paloma Operating Company, as well as the additions of 15-year and 30-year SCOOP play contracts with Camino Natural Resources and an unnamed producer, respectively. Bison now has more than 15 long-term contracts covering around 12 million acres in the Anadarko Basin.

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