As many as 30 to 40 workers could be called back to their jobs at Delta’s ISI following formation of a new business partnership.
Several dozen people gathered at the ISI (Industrial Systems Inc.) facility in Delta on May 27 for an announcement of the new enterprise and a tour of the facility.
ISI has acquired the second license to manufacture a new patented process that its developers promise will be a “breakthrough in water cleanup technology for oil and gas ... and other water intensive industries.”
The Clean-Frac technology that ISI will manufacture, sell, and lease under license with developer Origin Oil of California “can efficiently remove over 99 percent of dispersed oil and suspended solids” found in fluids used for fracking operations, and from the “produced water” of drilling operations, its developers say.
ISI founder Bob Isom told the DCI that 30 to 40 is a fair estimate of the number of employees who will be needed to ramp up the manufacturing operation. “We will be hiring more folks; electricians, welders, design and technology,” Isom said.
Glenn Lewis, director of construction for ISI, explained, “ISI is going to be Origin Oil’s original equipment manufacturer, and we will manufacture, lease (on a per barrel cleaned basis to meet the customer’s specifications), and also sell the unit if customers want to do their own operation.
“I believe our system will change the market for (solving) problems of cleaning produced and flowback water in the industry,” Lewis said.
Lewis is not alone in seeing a big market potential in the energy industry for the new technology.
Isom said that of all the methods currently available for cleaning frack flowback and produced water, “This one is cleanest and easiest. And it works.”
Dr. Gerald Bailey, a self-described “Texas oilman” and a retired president for Exxon corporation overseeing the company’s Arabian Gulf operations, is an advisor on the project. He was in Delta last week and said, “These guys (Origin Oil) are on to something. I’m glad ISI stepped up and gave us a place to tell our story. This is about to take off.
“Most people take a ‘wait-and-see’ attitude. Not ISI. This is an opportunity for Delta to become a manufacturing center for their technology,” Bailey said.
As explained by its developers briefly, the Clean-Frac technology uses a patented, low-voltage “electro water separation” (EWS) process that separates suspended solids and oil from frac flowback and produced water. The solids are removed mechanically and the cleaned water can be reused rather than disposed of.
Bill Charneski, general manager of Origin Oil’s oil and gas division, explained that Clean-Frac technology is a first-stage treatment process. The cleaned water produced can be further treated by conventional filtration, reverse osmosis, or other processes on site, or taken for environmentally safe evaporation disposal leaving minimal residue.
The Clean-Frac unit operating in Delta last week can treat 1,000 barrels per day. Plans are under way to develop units with three- and five-times that capacity, and the larger units will be made in Delta also.
Riggs Eckelberry CEO of Origin Oil, called the partnership with ISI and Delta announcement a “huge milestone.” It was, he said, “the World premier and first demonstration of the Clean-Frac technology.” Other demonstrations are being scheduled for California and Houston.
The companies say that Clean-Frac technology provides the following advantages to producers, well-service operators, consumers, and the environment:
• It cuts costs of fracking operations by a factor of ten.
• Microscopic sized suspended solids are removed by a mechanical filtering process that uses no chemicals or solvents of any kind;
• It uses far less “new” water in fracking operations because frack and flowback water are recycled. This results in less truck traffic on rural roads, and improves the overall availability of water to be used by others.
• It eliminates the need for deep injection well disposal of produced water.
• It removes oil and other contaminants, and it kills bacteria in the water that can worsen rust in well piping systems.
• The oil removed is recovered as saleable product.
• If desired, using a final reverse osmosis cleaning process, produce water clean enough for reintroduction into the environment as irrigation or for other uses.
Jim Pokrandt with the Glenwood Springs-based Colorado River District said the ability to clean produced water from drilling operations creates a new “found water resource.” Rather than disposing of the mucky fluid found deep underground, now “the petroleum industry can generate a previously un-allocated water resources for the state” for stream flow augmentation or other uses.
The new ISI-Origin Oil partnership is a business-to-business, entrepreneurial venture in the classic sense of a free market economy. There were no million-dollar government-funded feasibility studies or federal grants handed out to get the project rolling.
When Origin Oil first began applying its technology to frack flowback and produced water cleanup, Lewis and Isom at ISI were already in the industry information loop. The local men made the first contact with Origin Oil about licensing the technology, and now last week’s “world premier” in Delta is history.
Under the partnership, ISI will fabricate and assemble the units in Delta; form a subsidiary business unit to lease and service the units for energy producers, well service companies and others; and, sell the units outright
“The order book is open,” Isom said at the Delta event last week. Two guests from the Caribbean island nation of Trinidad and Tobago placed an order. Prior to last week, Lewis had been in Colombia, South America, talking with Exxon officials, and another four or five orders are expected from that contact.
Delta County Commissioner Doug Atchley said, at the Delta announcement, “We are very excited about this new technology being developed in Delta County. We appreciate Bob (Isom) and ISI for this partnership. Delta County will be in the middle of a lot of interesting stuff.”
Delta Mayor Ed Sisson complimented ISI and Origin Oil for their collaboration and added, “We are excited about the employment.”
ISI has been a part of the area’s energy and industrial economic sector for decades. The company has designed, fabricated, and constructed major facilities supporting the North Fork coal mines and other projects. The company already builds truck mountable, steel storage tanks that can be used in conjunction with the Clean-Frac system.
ISI also has recently developed and patented a portable, site-erectable water containment and treatment system capable of holding 53,000 barrels (2.5 million gallons) of water. The structure supports fracking operations where large volumes of water are used, such as well sites that support several dozen horizontal bores simultaneously.
Origin Oil developed its EWS technology as a means to efficiently harvest algae for refining into biofuels. The technology also has applications in aquaculture by removing ammonia from fish farm waters, and it can be used to clean waste water, developers say.