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News in brief

A roundup of the main developments regarding water in the oil & gas industry for January 18-February 4


Separations solutions provider ProSep bagged a multi-million-dollar contract to provide 10 annular injection mixers for installation at a Middle East operator’s oil & gas separation plants. The mixers, which have been shown to decrease demulsifier chemical injection by 25% and oil-in-water by up to 50%, are slated for installation by Q3 2021 .

On February 8, the New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute and New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium will close its request for proposals (RFP) for research on treatment and use of treated produced water. The RFP specifically targets R&D and demonstration projects aimed at cost-effective produced water treatment and beneficial reuse, as well as associated research and analysis efforts on produced water availability, quantitative risk assessment and socioeconomic/environmental/ecological cost-benefit analysis.

Select Energy Services announced plans to open two centralized produced water recycling facilities in the Permian Basin by the end of Q1 2021. The $5 million Midland facility will have a 50,000 bbl/d recycling capacity and 2 million bbl recycled water storage capacity, while the Delaware facility will have a 30,000 bbl/d recycling capacity and 1 million bbl recycled water storage capacity. Investment required for the Delaware facility was not disclosed in the company statement.

Cavitation Technologies resumed produced water treatment services at its 7,500 bbl/d facility in the Permian Basin after shutting down activities due to reduced oil & gas production and drilling related to the low oil price environment. The company, which uses cavitation reactor systems, is also initiating mobile treatment services with 12,000-15,000 bbl/d units, the second of which is expected to be deployed in March.

Legal & Regulatory

President Joe Biden issued an executive order that includes a 60-day freeze on new permit approvals for drilling on federal land and water. The order does not apply to hydraulic fracturing, so drilled but uncompleted wells can still be brought online. Many believe the order is the first step towards an outright drilling ban for federal lands. According to the American Petroleum Institute, such a move could result in steep oil & gas production cuts from New Mexico, Wyoming and offshore areas, as well as a loss of $9 billion in government revenue.

On January 15, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the request of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for delegation over National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Those applying for NPDES permits in the state will now only need approval from TCEQ, whereas before, approval was required from both the Texas Railroad Commission and the EPA.

A North Dakota judge declared the state’s “pore space” law unconstitutional, providing a win to the Northwest Landowners Association (NLA). In a suit against the state, the NLA argued that the law essentially strips landowners without existing lease agreements of the right to compensation for subsurface pore space used in saltwater disposal and enhanced oil recovery. North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness has said he expects an appeal.

New Mexico’s Senate agreed to consider SB 86, which would require greater disclosure on the makeup of produced water, prohibit freshwater use for certain activities and strengthen penalties for produced water spills. The bill’s author, State Senator Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, envisions SB 86 as an amendment to the 2019 Produced Water Act.

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