GeoPure – Cleaning Oilfield Wastewater

Petroleum (crude oil) is a vital part of our society. Billions of cars are dependant on the fuel drilled out of the ground, but petroleum also constitutes the base for many industries including plastics, pharmaceuticals, pesticides and even fertilizers. Unfortunately, getting petroleum is a dirty process and until now, has involved wasting millions of gallons of water (used to force oil to the surface).

The shiny black oil is found in porous rock formations underneath the earth’s crust. These petroleum reservoirs are made up of the crude oil, the natural gases that float on top of the oil and saline water that flows underneath. Extracting the petroleum involves drilling through the crust which then allows the oil to flow upwards through pre-made tubing.

Natural pressures under the oil are not always enough to induce the black liquid to ooze and sputter upwards, and in these cases, the oil needs to be helped along. In a ‘water drive’ oil field, for example, water is injected into the pre-existing brine below the oil forcing it to the surface. The water that bubbles up with the oil must be disposed of.

GeoPure – a company specializing in oilfield wastewater purification – states that “the oil and gas industry must dispose of approximately 6.3 million barrels of water per day at a cost exceeding $2 billion annually. At the same time, the availability of fresh water for oilfield operations continues to be a concern.”

Company President, David Crowe, together with his partners at the Texas A&M University Dept. of Petroleum Engineering, launched GeoPure in September, 2006. Since then, GeoPure has licensed the technology to transform the brine produced during petroleum production into quality drinking water through a specialized pretreatment and reverse osmosis (RO) filtration process.

GeoPure has confidence in their product and the rigorous testing done at various drilling sites in Texas showed impressive results: “The RO pilot system has been put through extensive testing in the Texas A&M laboratory as well as 12 separate field locations in Texas, and results show that dissolved solid levels up to about 50,000 mg/L can be reduced to the level of fresh water. Chloride levels are low enough that the fresh water may be discharged, or used as a base for fracturing fluid, drilling fluid, or oilfield chemicals…The process uses a uniquely staged pre-filtration approach to remove suspended solids and macromolecules before the stream is fed through the final RO filtration stage. This pre-filtration approach prolongs system life and performance, and reduces cost. The RO process paves the way for surface discharge of fresh water under a TRRC permit, or the sale of fresh water to end-users.”

Voted one of the top 100 private green companies by the GoingGreen panel at the GoingGreen executive event, GeoPure’s innovative technology has left many impressed.

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