This paper deals with the need to determine the optimum solution for the removal of hydrocarbons in frac flow back fluids on wells completed in unconventional resource areas. These include wells in the Barnett, Eagleford and Marcellus Shales. Fracture stimulation fluid volumes of up to 14 million gallons per well are becoming common. A significant portion of that water returns to the surface as a contaminated waste. To reduce cost and lower the environmental impact of managing such production, companies are seeking to treat and re-use fluids during development of the field.
This project looked at several methods to remediate the produced hydrocarbons to allow reuse of the fluids in other treatments. Our investigations included testing of removal techniques and the concomitant analytical methodology to use in field operations to ensure proper performance of the technologies. Tests were performed with actual field produced brines with five different filter medias including samples that can be regenerated as an alternative to absorbent materials that require replacement or regeneration to continue operation. Pre-treated fluids were then processed through subsequent membranes and purification to make them suitable for re-use. Results from this work have allowed our program to develop more efficient removal treatments and more reliable analytical methodology providing better field level guidelines for commercial operations.