With the intention of being the nation’s first midstream energy-agriculture company, a privately held Wyoming company on Monday obtained permits to use produced water from oil and natural gas operations on the state’s agricultural lands.
Encore Green Environmental (EGE) officials said exploration and production (E&P) companies are taking a “show me” attitude about whether produced water can prove valuable to the agricultural sector and cut wellsite costs.
EGE’s first project is on private land near Pine Bluff in the southeast corner of the state and is using proprietary “conservation by design” methods and best available water purification technology.
“From the E&Ps’ perspective, we’re just disposing of the water, but by re-purposing the water we’re putting it to use to grow vegetation and improve arid soils,” said general manager Jeff Holder.
Former Petroleum Association of Wyoming executive John Robitaille recently became EGE’s president in charge of Wyoming operations. He said the state Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) is taking a leadership position to transform produced water into a useful product.
“Our business model is set up to produce operator savings,” Robitaille said. “As we are supporting agriculture and industry, we believe we can create value in the produced water, while cutting costs for the operator, and thus, keeping the wells operating for a longer period of time.”
Robitaille said EGE’s business model is a chance for the state to be the first to unleash value in produced water.
Water purifying equipment can be moved “onsite very quickly as it is trailer-mounted; we do not own any of the equipment nor do we want to due to the ever-changing technology. We prefer to use the best technology for the specific job, so we use vendors to treat the water for us.”
EGE also is looking at prospects in New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma. Following legislation in New Mexico last year, a collaborative is looking at produced water, and EGE is part of the state-led effort.
Under New Mexico House Bill 546, the Oil Conservation Division has the primary regulatory authority for oil and gas protections, including "clarifying and improving" produced water regulations in the state.