A joint venture (JV) of Battelle and Winner Global LLC expects to begin building its first unit in April to respond to a potential water shortage facing oil and natural gas companies that are engaged in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) activities in the Utica and Marcellus shales in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The Sharon, PA-based JV, Winner Water Services Inc., was formed in January and would use a Battelle-invented technology to remove iron and sulfate from water in potentially thousands of abandoned coal mines in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The water then would be cycled back to drilling sites via pipelines or trucks, said Winner Water CEO John Ontiveros.

The Battelle process has been licensed to the JV.

Winner Water Services said the site of the first unit would be chosen based on oil and gas drilling activity in eastern Ohio, or southwestern and northeastern Pennsylvania. The first project could be operational this fall. The JV expects to build seven units over the next three years, with each one costing between $750,000 and $1.5 million.

Ontiveros said he believes the demand for water in fracking operations would be greatest in the Utica Shale region, where companies are drilling for more liquids-rich gas. “I expect the demand for water to increase in Ohio,” he said.

In contrast, Ontiveros said he doesn’t believe demand for water in the Marcellus region would be significantly higher “at this time” because it principally is a dry gas play.