New plant uses artificial intelligence to treat oil field waste
March 14, 2017
• Treatment plant is ramping up from January start
• “Why waste a valuable water resource by injecting it deep in the earth where it is lost forever?”
A regional water treatment facility near Wasco operated by Sweetwater Tech Resources LLC is using artificial intelligence to clean wastewater from nearby oil and gas fields.
The treatment plant uses artificial intelligence software made by Water Planet Inc. of Los Angeles.
Water Planet says this means wastewater can be more efficiently treated for reuse giving oil producers a cost-competitive option to trucking it to third party disposal wells.
The project also yields more water that can be reused to help fill the demand of local agricultural and industrial water consumers, the company says.
The Wasco facility started up in January at over 25,000 gallons of water per day under a temporary operating permit. Water Planet says it will scale to 420,000 gallons per day after the final permit is approved. Ultimately, Sweetwater plans to run multiple water recycling facilities in the Bakersfield area treating up to 4 million gallons per day.
The project treats wastewaters that vary widely in concentrations of salts, minerals, suspended solids, oil and dissolved hydrocarbons. Until now, says Water Planet, the only way to handle them has been disposal by deep well injection or retention in surface impoundments. The new software, it says, enables these radically different waters to be cleaned up reliably and affordably.
“This facility is just the first step in providing a new, more sustainable solution for produced water management,” says Water Planet CEO Rric Hoek.
“Why waste a valuable water resource by injecting it deep in the earth where it is lost forever? Water reuse is the future, and this installation can serves as a model to be replicated in other water-stressed oil and gas producing regions around the world,” Mr. Hoek says.
Dundee Kelbel, president of Sweetwater Tech Resources, predicts that deep well injection disposal of produced water is going to be a thing of the past.
Mr. Kelbel also notes that ponds for disposal of produced water are coming under more scrutiny. “This facility will process nearly a half million gallons of water per day. It’s a drop in the bucket for the California oil and gas industry, but this project gives us a stepping stone to build upon towards future water sustainability,” he says.
For this project, Water Planet says it devised a first-of-its-kind system consisting of a multidisciplinary treatment train designed to remove several contaminants of concern including suspended solids, free oil and grease, dissolved organics, salts and minerals, including boron.
“The key is our AI-based ‘IntelliFlux’ controls,” says Mt. Hoek. “Most of the system consists of off-the-shelf softening, filtration and desalination technologies. However, the uniqueness is that this system can reliably accept a wide range of influent water qualities while producing a consistent effluent water quality and at a cost that makes sense.”
Produced water is water that comes out of the ground when oil and gas are extracted, often in quantities that dwarf the relative amounts of hydrocarbons produced.