Natural gas midstream operator Energy Transfer Partners LP (ETP) is partnering with a company that treats produced water to develop transportation and treatment solutions for discharged waters generated by hydraulic fracturing used to stimulate natural gas wells in the Marcellus and Haynesville shale plays.

The 50-50 joint venture (JV) of ETP and Heckmann Corp. would exploit the parties' combined expertise in developing pipeline infrastructure and corresponding treatment facilities and would provide supply, drilling, flow-back and produced water solutions, the companies said.

CEO Richard J. Heckmann said his company would work with ETP "to deliver solutions for the over five billion gallons of produced water per year and demand for over 12 billion gallons per year of frac [fractionation] fluids in the Northeast, as well as the areas in which we now operate."

California-based Heckmann, which initially was created to buy and build companies in the water sector, is said to be one of the largest handlers of produced water in the United States. Last month the company completed a 50-mile water disposal pipeline in the Haynesville Shale to treat and dispose of up to 100,000 b/d of water. The company owns a network of eight disposal wells with four additional wells available for expansion. Heckmann also has bottling operations in China.

"We believe that our combined experience with the installation and operation of pipeline systems and the access we have to the technologies necessary to treat and recycle the water will be of great help to the producers of natural gas and oil, and to other producers of complicated water streams," the CEO said.

Last November, in his comments about the company's 3Q2009 earnings, Heckmann said his company's "U.S.-based produced water capabilities and the potential treatment of the disposal flows have ramifications far beyond Texas and Louisiana as we complete our first pipeline and can demonstrate our approach to one of the most severe issues in the energy exploration business."

Up to now Dallas-based ETP has been focused on its extensive midstream systems, which include natural gas gathering and transportation pipelines, treating and processing assets, and three storage facilities located in Texas. It currently has more than 17,500 miles of pipeline in service and has a 50% interest in JVs that have about 500 miles of interstate pipeline in service.

Several potential projects have been identified by Heckmann and ETP, and they said they have begun engineering and preliminary permitting necessary to begin constructing water pipelines, treatment and other related facilities. No additional details were provided.

Many of the gas shale producers that use frac techniques on their wells either use internal systems to treat the processed water or they contract with a third party to take care of the wastewater generated. For example, in 2008 Newfield Exploration Co. contracted with Ecosphere Technologies Inc. to recycle wastewater at the producer's Woodford Shale operations in Oklahoma (see Daily GPI, Nov. 25, 2008). Ecosphere also has recycled frac water produced in the Barnett Shale for Devon Energy Corp. and Williams Cos.

©Copyright 2010 Intelligence Press Inc. All rights reserved. The preceding news report may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any form, without prior written consent of Intelligence Press, Inc.