Antero’s wastewater treatment plant, landfill to open in W.Va.

Antero Midstream Partners and partner Veolia Water Technologies are expected to begin commercial operations soon at a nearly complete advanced wastewater treatment plant and an adjoining landfill in northern West Virginia.

The $500 million complex in Doddridge County is expected to begin full commercial operation in the coming weeks, Antero chairman and CEO Paul Rady told analysts and the media in a recent earnings call.

State-of-the-art

The state-of-the-art wastewater plant, known officially as the Antero Clearwater Facility, is “truly one of a kind and is the largest advanced wastewater treatment facility in the world for shale oil and gas operations,” he said. The facility is “one of our most significant growth projects to date,” he added.

The $275 million water treatment and reuse facility is reportedly the largest facility of its kind in the Appalachian Basin, the company says.

Next door will be a landfill on a 500-acre site that will get about 2,100 tons of salt per day from the plant.

Testing of the new facility is continuing, Kallanish Energy reports.

Nagging problem solved

The West Virginia complex will solve a nagging problem for operators in the Appalachian Basin: It will provide recycled fresh water for Antero’s shale drilling and will provide reuse of that water after it is tainted with salt, heavy metals, chemicals and low-level radioactive wastes from drilling.

The wastewater will be cleaned, recycled and re-used rather than being injected into underground rock formations via disposal wells.

The plant will produce clean water and salty wastes, plus radioactive residual wastes that will be shipped to other appropriately licensed landfills.

The plant relies on Veolia’s proprietary AnoxKaldnes MBBR biological treatment and its CoLD Process, an advanced evaporation and crystalization technology.

Veolia will operate the facility for 10 years under a turnkey contract with Antero

At the forefront

The plans put Denver-based Antero Resources and Paris-based Veolia at the forefront of developing sustainable management plans for water resources by shale drillers.

The new plant, near Greenwood, W.Va., will treat roughabout 95% of Antero’s wastewater, virtually eliminating the need and cost of injection wells for liquids disposal, the company says.

It is located centrally within Antero’s core acreage to maximize efficiencies. It will, the company says, create economic, environmental and community benefits by treating 60,000 barrels per day (BPD) of flowback and produced water.

The new facility is designed to help reduce the company’s fresh water costs. The treated water from the new plant will go via pipeline back into Antero’s freshwater pipeline system for use at other wells.

Reduces freshwater withdrawals

The facility will provide an additional freshwater supply of about 41,000 BPD, or 1.7 million gallons per day for Antero.

That will positively offset withdrawals from West Virginia’s water resources by reducing freshwater withdrawals from lakes and streams by 30% to 40%, Antero says.

The company says it spends about $1 million on water for every well it drills in the Marcellus and Utica shales. The new plant is designed to save Antero about $150,000 per well on future completion costs, the company reports.

In Q3, Antero used 142,000 BPD of freshwater, a 1% increase from a year earlier.

The company reported its use of watering completions has grown by 27%, from 33 barrels per lateral-foot, to 42 barrels per lateral-foot in 2017.

In the Marcellus Shale in West Virginia, Antero needs 44 barrels of fresh water per lateral-foot. In Q3, the company’s average Marcellus lateral was 9,500 feet long, meaning 418,000 barrels of water per well.

In the Utica Shale in Ohio, it needs 36 barrels of water per lateral-foot. The company’s average 3Q Utica lateral was 9,600 feet. That is 345,600 barrels of water per well.

Longer laterals need more water

Antero is drilling longer laterals in the Appalachian Basin and they need added water. It has drilled 900 wells that are in excess of 8,250 feet. Of those wells, 230 laterals surpassed 10,000 feet. Its Q3 wells averaged 10,750 feet and included three Marcellus wells in excess of 14,000 feet.

It plans to drill 150 wells in 2018, 170 wells in 2019 and 150 wells in 2020 in the Appalachian Basin, officials said in the Q3 earnings call.

That is 200 fewer wells than had been planned. But the change will save the company $1.5 billion in capital spending and projected production growth is expected to be the same as if those 200 wells were drilled, officials said.

It intends to spend only $1.3 billion on capital projects in 2018, and $1.5 billion in both 2019 and 2020.

Truck travel reduction

The West Virginia plant will also reduce water truck travel on average by more than 10 million miles a year, a reduction of nearly 50% in water-related truck travel, Antero says.

That will reduce wear and tear to highways and cut greenhouse gas emissions by an average of 30,000 tons a year, the company says.

Antero said the initial infrastructure build-out of the freshwater delivery system has eliminated 820,000 fresh water truck trips since 2014.

West Virginia plant construction supported nearly 250 jobs. Once operational, the plant will support 21 permanent full-time jobs as well as 25 related service jobs.

Antero said the plant will likely be at 50% capacity when the plant begins commercial operations and at full use within three years, unless another company signs a contract to bring its liquid wastes to the West Virginia plant.

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