BeneTerra uses a variety of environmentally friendly technologies to reuse and recycle oilfield wastewater.

Finding ways to reuse and recycle water is becoming increasingly important in the oil and gas industry, and BeneTerra is doing something about it with several existing and new technologies.          

“We provide water and land management solutions for our clients, which enable them to focus on their core business,” says Derek Lowe, operations manager for BeneTerra. “We do everything from large-scale water projects on 600 acres to plugging and abandoning a monitoring well, or installing a monitoring well for a client.”

BeneTerra was formed in 2002 with the purpose of enabling the beneficial use of wastewater. Since then most of the company’s efforts have been related to water and land management for the oil and gas industry.

While BeneTerra offers a wide range of services for producers, including overall land management, soils investigation, remediation, reclamation, environmental monitoring and regulatory compliance, the company’s core mission remains the same – to develop beneficial reuse solutions for wastewater streams.

“One of the things that sets us apart is that we provide solutions with boots on the ground and the practical hands-on help our clients need to get the job done,” says Lesley Pearson, controller for BeneTerra. “We don’t simply offer the solution and walk away. We share solutions, find out which one is going to meet our customer’s needs the best way, and then we use our team to employ that solution for them and operate it on an ongoing basis.”

In some cases that may include project management, but it can also include day-to-day operations and monitoring of that project, Pearson adds.

BeneTerra’s main office is in Sheridan, Wyo., but the company also has a secondary facility in Australia. In the U.S., the company meets geographic location needs on a case-by-case basis as projects change and new clients are added.

Roots on the farm

BeneTerra has deep agriculture roots that start with the founders of the company.

“We have a deep background in agriculture amongst our team and our owner group that came from Kansas. We’ve also done a number of agricultural wastewater projects in Kansas and Wyoming,” says Adam Zimmer, business development manager for BeneTerra.

Lowe adds that the agriculture background is the foundation of the company’s stewardship approach to providing practical and innovative solutions. “We help our clients focus on sustainable development that will ultimately take care of water and land. That’s the principle of agricultural roots. If you take care of the land and water today, they will in turn take care of future generations and are often more economically viable. That’s one of our key priorities.”

The agriculture background also benefits BeneTerra and its relationship with the landowners it serves.

“We listen to and understand what their challenges are, and then we work with the client and the landowner to develop the best-fit solution for their current challenge,” Zimmer says.

Evaporation technology

BeneTerra is pioneering technology intended to serve as an environmentally friendly alternative to conventional handling of wastewater created as a byproduct of oil and gas production.

The company has modified existing evaporation technology to cater to the unique operational locations of oil and gas well pads.

“When we started, the primary technology that we used was subsurface drip irrigation for beneficially reusing produced water, for which we have a process patent,” Lowe says. “Subsurface drip irrigation is not a new technology, we just repurposed it for the oil and gas industry and the needs of our clients in the Powder River Basin.”

Recently, BeneTerra has also developed a new submerged combustion evaporation technology called BeneVap Systems.

“This unit takes produced water – wastewater that is developed as part of the oil and gas life cycle – evaporates it and releases clean steam into the atmosphere to reduce the overall wastewater volume by up to 97 percent,” Lowe says. “BeneVap Systems greatly decrease all associated services needed for an oil well, such as the trucking of water to a disposal well, the wear and tear on the infrastructure and the emissions that are being created by the trucks and the flaring of the gas.”

Zimmer notes that the company is utilizing flare gas as the fuel source to evaporate the water.

The BV300 – which is what the unit is called – comes in part from intellectual property acquired by BeneTerra from New Mexico-based Evaporative Systems in late 2013, and a unit designed and tested by BeneTerra’s Australia team.

Evaporative Systems has used a similar wastewater disposal system for various projects, including landfills and food processing, for more than a decade. However, BeneTerra retooled the technology for application in the energy industry.

Lowe is pleased with the results so far. He says the first unit, which combines the best of both companies, is already being tested at a site near their headquarters. “The first pilot for the unit is right here in Sheridan, on a dewatering project for a client that has a brine pit that needs to be dewatered. BeneTerra’s BV300 has not only been an economic solution, but an excellent environmental solution too.”

The BV300 consists of an encased heating unit mounted on an 8.5- by 23-foot skid, with accessory pipes. The system was designed to sit in close proximity to a well site and can process up to 300 barrels of water per day. It can also operate on an alternative fuel source if adequate flare gas is unavailable.

“Stranded assets are the best fit for the BV300 – remote wells located several miles from transmission infrastructure and disposal facilities,” Zimmer says. The potential environmental benefits can be huge in those cases.

“By evaporating the water and putting it into the atmosphere, you’re truly putting it back into the water cycle. If you inject it into a disposal well, it’s gone,” Zimmer says. “There are currently no technologies that will pump that water back to the surface and utilize it. If it’s released into the atmosphere as pure steam, plants, animals and people are able to use it.”

Aggressive plans

One of the things Pearson, Lowe and Zimmer have all noticed throughout the life cycle of BeneTerra is that the oil and gas sector is a volatile market, and service providers have to be able to remain stable through the same ebbs and flows.

“As a solution provider, you have to be ready to adapt to the changes in the market, especially as they impact your clients,” Pearson says. “As our clients’ plans change, we adapt our solutions to fit, and that’s not just specific to oil and gas.”

BeneTerra has an aggressive growth plan laid out for the coming years, according to Zimmer. “We believe that both our SDI technology and our BeneVap Systems solutions will be important growth vehicles. With our strong science and innovation background, we’re confident we will continue to find new solutions and develop new technologies to meet the changing demands and needs of the oil and gas industry.”

It’s no secret that with a growing population in the world, water is becoming scarce and reuse is becoming an important topic among companies that depend on the valuable resource.

“We feel our company is really on the forefront of water recycling and reuse, and we hope to continue to grow those solutions and services,” Zimmer says. “As a society we are going to have to find more ways to reuse water, and that’s one of the founding principles of the company.”

More Information

BeneTerra - 307/673-0607 -

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