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New Water Treatment Eyed for Oil/Gas Industry

With the potential to help satisfy growing regulatory concerns about flowback and produced water used in hydraulic fracturing (fracking), Los Angeles-based OriginOil Inc. has signed a pay-per-barrel agreement with small Colorado-based water treatment company Industrial Systems Inc. (ISI).

The focus of the agreement is OriginOil's pre-commercial high-speed, chemical-free process for cleaning large quantities of water, called Electro Water Separation (EWS), which Industrial Systems intends to make the first stage of its water treatment work for oil/natural gas and other heavy industries.

This deal is viewed as the first step in commercializing the EWS technology, according to OriginOil COO Bill Charneski, a former chemical process engineer and CEO of two startup companies that similarly were involved in introducing new products and processes.

OriginOil will build what it has designated an EWS "Petro Model P160s" capable of processing 65 gallons of water/minute. Its finance partner in the construction project is VenPro Partners, which will provide the capital for the building the skid-mounted system.

NGI's Shale Daily attempted to reach OriginOil representatives to find the cost and location for the skid-mounted system, but no one was immediately available to answer questions.

"The system is designed to treat fracking flow-back or produced water for immediate reuse and will be built on skids so that it can easily be moved from site to site," the company said in its announcement.

A spokesperson for the Colorado Oil/Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) told NGI's Shale Daily Thursday that he wasn't sure the state regulators are necessarily aware of the OriginOil technology, but generally the state agency is "certainly supportive of, and encouraged by, technologies that reduce impacts to water quality and water quantity."

Delta, CO-based ISI, which bills itself as a disabled American veteran-owned small business, has agreed that it will operate OriginOil's Model P160 as part of its over fracking flow-back water clean up service, paying Origin a fee for each barrel of water processed. A 22-year-old firm, ISI has serviced oil/gas, mining and power industry clients in multi-million-dollar projects nationally, and in 2011 was summoned to provide help in the emergency water clean up at the Fukushima nuclear site in Japan.

"I have long advocated EWS to revolutionize shale-related cleanup in the oil patch," said Gerald Bailey, an adviser to OriginOil and others in the industry since leaving his senior position at ExxonMobil heading up operations in the Arabian Gulf, Abu Dhabi and UAE. "I am confident that this is the last remaining barrier to commercializing our best-in-class water treatment technology."

With the shale revolution continuing to grow in the U.S. energy sector, Battelle earlier spun off a company to deal with water issues: Winner Water Services, based in Pennsylvania. The company recovers acid mine drainage water. It works with recycling produced water, and it has a produced water treatment technology. 

Winner Water has a technology that can filter out all the sulfates in the contaminated water, allowing the water to be reused. Battelle Technologies has even come up with a way to further purify the reused water so it can be a secondary source of drinking water, according to the company.

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