ProWater, a Sustainable Environmental Technologies Corp. (SET) subsidiary, said Wednesday it has started drilling a new saltwater disposal (SWD) well in North Dakota's portion of the Bakken Shale and will test a new automated system to support shale oil drilling in the play.

Denver-based ProWater said the CL 11-2 well will be its first in the Bakken, which is being drilled near Cartwright, ND, in McKenzie County. ProWater President Keith Morlock said the new well would be within 10 miles of several oil wells, including one less than 1,000 feet away.

"We'll be providing critical services to nearby wells, relieving them of the expense of trucking produced water to far off [saltwater disposal] wells, while preserving the environment by reducing road wear, tear and emissions," Morlock said. He added that the company's new Centerline SWD system "can recover oil particles and other components from the water, enabling us to provide the treated recycled water for other oilfield water needs while greatly reducing their demand for fresh water from other sources."

ProWater plans to test what would be the first Centerline system in the United States with small volumes of produced water at first, but gradually ramping up production. The company anticipates that the CL 11-2 well would be processing more than half of its capacity of 8,000-10,000 barrels a day of produced water by the end of the year.

The company said its Centerline system is modular, transportable and can be built year-round in climate-controlled facilities before being erected on-site, considered a "key factor in locales such as the Bakken Shale formation, where winter temperatures can reach minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit."

Duchesne, UT-based SET last November said General Electric had contracted with ProWater to build key components of the Centerline system (see Shale Daily, Nov. 8, 2011). At the time SET said it planned to have a total of four Centerline wells completed in the Bakken by the end of this year. SET said ProWater would complete three additional saltwater disposal wells in the Bakken by the end of 2013.