EnCana unveils new production water plan
EnCana unveiled an ambitious plan Thursday to treat water produced from its experimental coal bed methane wells this year that will be released into area streams.EnCana has drilled 24 wells into coal seams between 5,600 and 8,300 feet in the area of West Mamm Creek, EnCana engineer Mark Thrush told the Garfield County Energy Advisory Board.Unlike conventional natural gas wells, wells drilled into coal seams typically produce large amounts of highly saline water. Thrush explained that coal bed methane wells produce from 300 to 3,000 barrels of water a day compared to zero to 15 barrels per day from conventional wells.Such water has been a concern in the relatively shallow wells of the Powder River Basin in Wyoming, where salinity has affected drinking water.Currently, EnCana recycles about 3.3 million barrels of water annually from its conventional drilling, Thrush said. But its current water treatment plant cannot handle the massive amount of water from the coal bed wells. Traditionally, water from coal bed wells is injected underground. EnCana is currently using an injection well to dispose of production water but has another plan for the waste.EnCana proposes bringing in a three-stage membrane filtration plant that will remove salt from the production water so that most of it can meet state drinking water standards and be released into nearby streams. Some water will still be injected underground. EnCana is now testing a filtration unit that handles 3,000 barrels of water a day, Thrush said. Water runs through a pipeline from the wells to the filtration plant. A second unit, that can handle 15,000 barrels a day, will be installed and is expected to be in operation by the end of June.Thrush said results of testing on the smaller unit show a reduction in dissolved solids in production water from 15,000 parts per million to less than 400 ppm after filtration. Sodium was reduced from 4,130 ppm to less than 100 ppm. Thrush also noted that dissolved solids in the Colorado River run about 540 ppm, whereas the standard for safe drinking water is 500 ppm.”In some cases CBM water will be cleaner than what you’re drinking,” he said.EnCana is working with the West Divide Water Conservancy District to determine where treated production water will be released.Thrush also said the CBM wells require fracturing, as do conventional natural gas wells. However, with CBM wells, fracturing takes place earlier in the process and fracturing fluid is present in the produced water.”Our water treatment facility is designed to handle that water,” he said.
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