OriginOil Inc., developer of Electro Water Separation (EWS), the high-speed, chemical-free process to clean up large quantities of water, announced that it recently commissioned a pilot site for the treatment of produced water for steam injection, and to provide irrigation water for California’s drought-stricken Central Valley. The site is hosted by privately-held Vaquero Energy, an exploration and production (E&P) company based in Bakersfield, California.

“We were delighted to welcome OriginOil on our site, because we’ve prioritized treating our produced water for beneficial reuse in our Cyclic Steam boilers and for agricultural irrigation,” said Wyatt Shipley, Vaquero Energy Operations Manager. “OriginOil’s units are treating our produced water, while also recovering significant amounts of oil, which otherwise would have been lost to disposal. We are excited about the potential for this new technology to work in the field.”

“After our field testing in the natural gas fields of Colorado and the light oil reservoirs of West Texas, it is critical from a technical perspective to have a test site in the heavy oil fields of Central California,” said Lee Portillo, OriginOil VP of Engineering for Oil & Gas. “We are grateful to our hosts at Vaquero for giving us both a site and produced water to work with from their Cyclical Steam Stimulation facility.”

For on-site applications, EWS is typically combined with downstream processes into the complete solution, Clean-Frac. These processes include TriSep Corporation’s iSep ultrafiltration (UF) membrane system. An iSep unit is now operating at the Vaquero site to help demonstrate Clean-Frac’s end-to-end capability.

“We’re pleased to be part of this proof-of-concept for the treatment of produced water for agricultural reuse, which is a major need for drought-affected areas like California’s Central Valley,” said Dave McGovern, Director of New Business Development at TriSep Corporation. “Our iSep UF performance is greatly enhanced if oil and grease levels are reduced prior to our membrane, which, as we witnessed in Colorado, EWS does effectively. The two systems work together to produce an effluent free of oil, suspended solids, and bacteria, which is well on the way to being irrigation-quality water.”

OriginOil has placed two units at Vaquero. The first is a P250 model, which can treat 250 barrels per day (bpd). This unit is being field-tested for existing customer demand, including an order for four P250s by licensee Industrial Systems Inc. of Delta, Colorado.

The second is the commercial-scale P3000, designed to treat 3000 bpd. Commercial scale can be achieved with this design by combining up to four units in a single 40-foot container to treat as much as 500,000 gallons per day.

Interest in Bakersfield by producers, water districts and farmers has been high since oil major Chevron built an eight-mile pipeline to supply treated produced water to a local water district for farming use. Recently, when water prices on the open market skyrocketed to $1,300 an acre-foot, the price of the Chevron-treated water remained under $60.

Immediate state funding for producers for water treatment and recycling may be available from Proposition 1, which provides more than $7 billion for new water projects, including $725 million for water recycling projects, such as reusing oil formation water for agriculture.