With the aim of reducing truck travel and pollution, while increasing efficiency for Marcellus and Utica shale oil and natural gas producers, Eureka Resources LLC said Thursday it plans to construct a centralized wastewater treatment facility in Standing Stone Township in Bradford County, PA, the epicenter of Marcellus development.

Eureka’s treatment process allows for recycling of Marcellus and Utica shale water for use at future well sites, as well as a concentrated brine crystallizer to allow for beneficial reuse of valuable byproducts that can be extracted from the water. The facility would operate around the clock seven days a week and employ 16 people full-time.

Bradford County, which accounts for nearly one-quarter of all the drilling in the state, has seen production skyrocket over the last few years. After producing 65.8 Bcfe during the second half of 2010, the county nearly tripled production to 170.3 Bcfe during the second half of 2011, according to Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) data (see Shale Daily, March 20).

“Bradford County saw more drilling activity than any other Pennsylvania county last year,” said Eureka CEO Dan Ertel. “This facility will provide gas producers in this area with a treatment option that is closer to home and helps reduce the number of trucks needed for off-site disposal and their associated costs, noise and pollution.”

Phase 1 of the facility’s construction would include pretreatment and bulk storage tank systems capable of pretreatment of 10,000 barrels a day of multiple fluids, including drilling muds, flowback water and produced water. The treated water would be trucked offsite for reuse by gas well developers, temporarily stored onsite for reuse later, or disposed of through Eureka’s existing Williamsport, PA, facility. The first phase is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Phase 2 would include construction of a concentrated brine crystallizer that would allow Eureka to provide advanced treatment of the pretreated effluent. The first such facility to process highly concentrated brine for reuse from Marcellus wastewater in Pennsylvania, the crystallizer unit would generate solid-phase crystallized salt cake, concentrated liquid brine purge stream and distilled water, depending on the needs of the oil and gas operator. The second phase is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2013.

“Not only will this facility provide another reuse option for Marcellus wastewater, it will also reduce the need for the disposal of concentrated brine, which typically has been trucked to injection wells in Ohio,” Ertel said. “The highly concentrated brine will be reusable in the natural gas and hydro fracturing industry, and the remaining waste after the crystallization process may be disposed of in landfills as solid waste.”

The company’s Williamsport wastewater treatment plant has been operating since 2008 and has undergone multiple upgrades to add more capabilities. According to Eureka, it is the only facility treating Marcellus wastewater that meets the DEP’s stringent standards for discharge into the state’s rivers or streams. “We plan to bring those same high standards to the Standing Stone facility,” Ertel added.