Approximately 87 per cent of BC’s natural gas production is from the Montney Play in the Northeast Region. Natural gas production uses a large volume of water in an area where there is significant demand on surface water and groundwater for agriculture, natural gas production, households and other uses. Disposing of the highly saline produced water (formation water that flows to the surface with gas and oil) from Montney Play natural gas production is both challenging and expensive as much of the water must be trucked to disposal sites.
Energy companies spend approximately $180 million per year on a combination of ponding, reuse and transporting produced water from the Montney Play. This is expected to grow as the industry grows to meet forecast demand increases.
This Energy project fits under Geoscience BC’s Strategic Objective of Advancing Science & Innovative Technologies and our goal to:
- Improve economic competitiveness of the Montney Play through advanced science and innovative geoscience technologies.
Specifically, this project involves:
- Upgrading and commissioning the AirBreather pilot for zero liquid discharge (ZLD) operation with the objective of producing industrial salt for re-use;
- Completing 20 days’ operation at Saltworks facility using representative water samples; and
- Analyzing AirBreather pilot results, salts produced, salt reuse applications and economics to enable full-scale AirBreather AB-100 ZLD deployment.
The AirBreather captures waste heat on the production site and uses it to reduce the volume of highly saline wastewater. It can either return clean water, which helps to restore water balance at-site, or produce clean water vapour that operators can safely release into the atmosphere resulting in zero liquid discharge (ZLD).
This made-in-BC technology offers both financial and environmental benefits. AirBreather is estimated to offer 30% cost savings over traditional disposal methods. The reduction in water volume means fewer vehicles driving to and from production and disposal sites, leading to reduced carbon dioxide emissions and improved safety.
Testing will take place at Saltworks’ Richmond, BC, facility using produced water from a variety of locations in the Montney Play.