Antero Resources’ innovative wastewater recycling facility in Doddridge County, WV began operation in November 2017 (see Antero’s $275M WV Wastewater Recycling Facility Ready to Launch). Since that time, the Clearwater Facility has continued to expand. Today it operates at about 70% of its full capacity.
The facility can process up to 60,000 barrels of wastewater per day, separating water, salt and radioactive particles. The salt can be sold to municipalities for use as road salt–but frankly there’s not enough of a market to sell it all. And not all of it will be of sufficient quality to be sold that way. So Antero also spent $20 million to build a landfill next to the plant for the salt (see Update on Antero’s $275M Wastewater Facility in WV).
The facility is a real gem, highly beneficial to the environment. So far the facility has provided Antero with over 150 million gallons of water for use in drilling and fracking new wells. That’s 150 million gallons of water Antero didn’t have to get via surface water.
And because Antero doesn’t have to truck wastewater to an injection well, they figure they’ve saved around 9.7 million miles of truck travel since the plant went online.
Kevin Ellis, vice president of government relations with Antero, says the company is enormously proud of the Clearwater Facility. He said, “it’s the best project like this in the world. Bar none. Period.” We agree!
Antero Resources’ Clearwater Facility in Doddridge County is now operating at nearly 70 percent of the facility’s fully designed capacity, according to company officials.
The $300 million facility, which cleans fracking water so it can safely be reused, is an entirely unique venture in the oil and gas industry, said Al Schopp, Antero’s chief administrative officer and regional senior vice president.
“Antero’s Clearwater advanced wastewater treatment facility in Doddridge County is the first plant of its kind, designed from inception to treat water from shale gas development,” he said. “The primary reason for this (project) is the long-term environmental impact of recycling the water. We’re able to reduce more truck miles and eliminate the use of saltwater disposal wells throughout the state.”
Planning, design and permitting of the facility began in 2015, and construction started in 2016, Schopp said.
“The project originated with Antero’s desire for a diverse portfolio of wastewater disposal options to facilitate long-term and stable operations,” he said. “Antero’s management elected to proceed with the project in 2015 due to the environmental benefits and operational flexibility provided by the Clearwater project.”
Clearwater is processing an ever-increasing percentage of Antero’s wastewater, which has enormously reduced the company’s overall environmental impact, Schopp said.
“The Clearwater facility continues to serve as an alternate source of fresh water for Antero’s operations and has provided over 150 million gallons of recovered fresh water, reducing Antero’s need to pull from surface waters,” he said. “As an alternative to injection, the plant has reduced wastewater truck trips for Antero, eliminating approximately 9.7 million miles in truck travel since the plant began processing.”
As the plant continues to progress, the project team continues to evaluate strategies to reduce the footprint of Antero’s operations, Schopp said.
“Current analyses show the potential for beneficial re-use of salt streams from the plant, which are under evaluation to reduce the need for landfill,” he said.
Including the onsite landfill, the plant has more than 50 employees and requires numerous support and auxiliary positions, Schopp said.
“We have met and exceeded our expectations in terms of employment at Clearwater,” he said.
With the landfill’s close proximity to the Clearwater facility, Schopp said it will reduce trips on local roads by 3.2 million miles a year. The salt trucks never have to leave the property, which is about 37,000 trips per year.
“We actually reduce our truck traffic mileage by 10 million miles a year, which is another 16,000 tons of carbon emission eliminated,” he said.
The facility represents an innovative step for the oil and gas industry, said Conrad Baston, Antero’s general manager of civil engineering.
“We frack or complete the well, and some of the water flows back from that effort, and it’s something typically taken to a wastewater well or injection well,” Baston said. “We just don’t see those as being viable long-term, and that’s why we’ve arrived at Clearwater as an alternate solution to injection wells.”
The plant was designed to specifically handle the byproducts associated with Marcellus Shale fracking, Baston said.
“We had a substantial planning component,” he said. “We developed statistics for the water from our region and took that data to a large, expert company.”
The company, Veolia Water Technologies, helped Antero to develop and refine techniques used at the plant, Baston said.
“It takes the produced water that has no surface use at this point and separates it essentially in two,” Baston said. “It takes the 100 percent volume to produce 98 percent clean, surface-discharge-quality water and salt, and then takes those metals or things in the water and makes 2 percent residual solid.”
The residual solids are taken to a regulated landfill in Idaho for disposal, while the clean water and salt is reused, Baston said.
The clean water is put back into Antero’s freshwater pipeline that runs to the different sites in the region.
Kevin Ellis, vice president of government relations with Antero, said Clearwater is one of the more prominent and important environmental projects undertaken in the United States in a long time in the oil and gas industry.
“That’s why we’re so proud of this project; it’s the best project like this in the world. Bar none. Period,” he said. “West Virginia now has Clearwater and the largest gas processing plant in North America just a few miles away from that. West Virginia is taking its place on the national and world stage in energy production.”
Schopp said he expects other entities involved in the oil and gas industry to take notice of Clearwater’s innovative disposal methods.
“I think people will be watching this very closely,” he said. “We’ve had both Ohio and West Virginia regulators visit the plant and give presentations on the plant and what it could mean for disposal wells. So, I think we’re going to see both industry interest and regulatory interest in the plant as a potential viable alternative to the current solutions,” he said.*
*Clarksburg (WV) WV News (Apr 13, 2019) – Antero Resources leads environmental progress with Clearwater Facility in Doddridge County, WV
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