Oil Companies Recycling Dirty, Oily Water

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Basin oil operators are trying to get a little greener.

Oil Industry Expert Morris Burns says, "The oil industry, like everyone else, is becoming more aware of water use and aware of ways to save water."

A lot of water gets used when looking for oil.

Lee Maddox with STW Resources, a water reclamation service, says, "When the oil comes up, it comes up with a lot of water and so [operators] extract the oil out of the water and they have to do something with that water and currently they're disposing of it."

However, now, more than ever, companies throughout West Texas are recycling the water they use when drilling and fracking. Alan Murphy with Bob J. Johnson and Associates, a water treatment company, says, "The more we can recover the water we're using, the more we can protect our resources."

STW Resources is reclaiming oily, dirty water and then cleaning it up and sending it back to the oil companies for reuse.

"So our job is to take that water from that quality and clean it up to a clarity that looks almost like tap water," Murphy said.

They're in the middle of a pilot program aimed at making the reclaimed water meet the high standards put into place by fracking companies. Years have gone into their method.

Murphy says, "[It involves filtering, chemicals and multi-stages of processes." The exact scientific formulas are a secret.

With drought conditions and increased oil production, the Basin is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of companies trying to do this.

Murphy says, "Water is the [next] gold, the next great event. We're losing 18% of our water each year in Texas that we cannot regain."

Experts say this type of water processing will only continue to grow.

Burns says, "For the first time in several years the Permian Basin's production is back up over one million barrels per day."