With water safety continuing to be a critical issue in the fracking discussion, can fracking water be treated to be free of chemicals? During today's OnPoint, Charles Vinick, CEO of Ecosphere Technologies, discusses his company's technology, which replaces chemicals and eliminates disposal of water used for fracking. Vinick explains why he believes the technology, which is currently being used by Newfield Exploration Co. and Southwestern Energy Co., has the ability to be a game changer for fracking.
Monica Trauzzi: Hello and welcome to OnPoint. I'm Monica Trauzzi. Joining me today is Charles Vinick, CEO of Ecosphere Technologies. Charles, thanks for coming on the show.
Charles Vinick: Thank you, Monica.
Monica Trauzzi: Charles, when we talk about hydraulic fracturing one of the first things to come up in the discussion is the heavy use of water and chemicals that are being pumped into fracking wells. And your company has created a technology that replaces chemicals and eliminates disposal. Talk a bit about the process that you've created and that you're using.
Charles Vinick: Well, Monica, we've created and our technology team has patented an advanced oxidation process that's based on the use of ozone, which is used throughout the world as a treatment process for water and we mixed that with hydrodynamic cavitation, acoustic cavitation and electro-oxidation, all in a pressure vessel. So, we're really oxidizing heavy metals and other contaminants, eliminating the need for biocides to be used to control bacteria growth and eliminating scale inhibitors that-everywhere there is corrosion in a pipe, you have scale and that's what's causing that corrosion and the like. And we eliminate the need for chemicals through the advanced oxidation process.
Monica Trauzzi: So, where in the fracking process would this technology be used? At the beginning?
Charles Vinick: We're on the front-end of the hydraulic fracture, so we're, to our knowledge, the only company that has water technology, water treatment technology to treat the water at the rate that the pumping companies are fracturing a well. So at 120 barrels a minute, over 5000 gallons a minute of water going down hole, we're able to process the water through our equipment, eliminating the need for the chemicals on the front-end of the frack.
Monica Trauzzi: So then it doesn't really matter what recipes of chemicals these companies are using or does it? Does that have an impact on how effective the technology can be?
Charles Vinick: Not on how effective the technology would be, but certainly the E&P companies and their service providers would decide what their approach is for treating the water. What we would eliminate is the biocides and the scale inhibitors. We also believe friction reducers are not needed with our process, but, in some cases, certainly the E&P companies may choose to use a friction reducer with their process.
Monica Trauzzi: So, industry argues that their process for fracking and the chemicals used are completely safe. What then is the incentive for using a technology like yours?
Charles Vinick: Well, I think there are a number of things. First of all, we find our customers make their decisions based on cost and effectiveness of the treatment. So, we've been on over 500 wells. We've treated over a billion gallons of water. We wouldn't have treated the second well if we weren't providing a cost effective and-a cost viable and an effective solution for the companies that are our customers.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, you've mentioned your customers several times. Who are your customers? What kinds of companies are you distributing to?
Charles Vinick: Well, we've been very active in the Fayetteville Shale with Southwestern. We've certainly been in the-in Oklahoma with Newfield. And we're very active with our sub-licensee, Hydrosonics is very active in the Permian Basin in south and west Texas.
Monica Trauzzi: Is this a game changing technology for fracking?
Charles Vinick: We think so. We think it's certainly a disruptive technology. It's new. It's game changing and how water is treated not only in fracturing, but in many industrial applications where the use of chemicals is critically important for traditional uses and, more importantly, where scarce water resources are disposed of, this enables recycling of those waters.
Monica Trauzzi: How much of a front-end cost is there for companies that would like to bring on this technology?
Charles Vinick: Well, I think that really does vary by shale play. It varies by the volume of water usage. So, our customers are charged depending on their volume use and they're charged generally on a per barrel basis and, in some cases, on a monthly stipend basis and it varies by customer.
Monica Trauzzi: All right, very interesting stuff. Interesting conversation. Thanks for coming on the show.
Charles Vinick: Thank you very much.
Monica Trauzzi: And thanks for watching. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
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