Barron said industry sometimes uses chlorine dioxide or hypochlorite treatments to recycle produced water for reuse, but these treatments can actually enhance bacteria’s ability to convert naturally occurring hydrocarbons to chlorocarbons and organobromides. The researchers suggested this transition could happen either downhole or in storage ponds where produced water is treated.
“We believe the industry needs to investigate alternative, nonchemical treatments to avoid the formation of compounds that don’t occur in nature,” Barron said.
Primarily, he said, the researchers want their analysis to anticipate future problems as industry develops processes to remove organic compounds from water bound for reuse.
The new paper, Barron said, should be of particular interest to international producers who are preparing to ramp up gas-recovery efforts in the United Kingdom, which recently announced plans to expand drilling, and other European countries.
“As the U.K. and other European countries are looking to start hydraulic fracturing, it is important that they adopt best practices at the start, as opposed to evolving over time, as it has occurred here in the United States,” he said.