White Owl Energy Services: Redefining Wastewater Management through Unique Processes
Owen C Pinnell, President & CEO
Rare talent, high compliance, and streamlined operations—these are the benefits that separate White Owl Energy Services from its competitors in the wastewater management domain. Barry O’Brien, VP of Finance and CFO at White Owl, elaborates, “Leveraging our specialized knowledge workers with expert skills and deep experience, we are helping our clients maintain high regulatory compliance while introducing the latest in measurement and control technology at our facilities. Our facilities are designed to support faster truck loading and accurate measurement of fluids received. Because of our client-centric culture, we help producer and trucking clients control their disposal costs and achieve high returns on their investment.”
White Owl caters to the unique needs of heavy industries, such as oil and gas, energy, and midstream markets, out of its six facilities in North Dakota. These facilities receive oilfield waste streams that include water produced from oil and gas operations and stimulation fluids recovered from production, injection, and exploratory wells, and flowback fluids.
The fracking process, carried out by producers to complete their wells, generates flowback fluids from pumping high volumes of water and sand under high pressure into the well bores. Once the fracking process is completed, the fluids, having a mixture of oil and other waste materials, reaches the surface and needs to be properly and safely disposed. “These fluids are trucked or pipelined to our facilities where we separate the oil, water, and other contaminants,” explains Randall Juhlin, VP of Engineering and Operations at White Owl. Through deep-water injection techniques, the company disposes of the wastewater while reclaiming the residual oil which is resold in the market.
While White Owl’s five Class-2 facilities provide disposal service to oil and gas producers, the company’s lone Class-1 facility caters to non-hazardous industrial wastewater. These types of fluids don’t qualify for the EPA exploration and production fluids exemption for oilfield fluids and, therefore, must be disposed in a different class and differently regulated injection well. Strikingly, White Owl’s Class-1 facility is one of the only two such commercial facilities available in North Dakota.
Another distinctive aspect about White Owl is that three of its facilities are connected to the clients’ water gathering pipelines, so the water arrives directly into those facilities—no trucking required. This approach significantly improves process efficiency and reduces carbon emission. “White Owl developed two of its pipeline-connected facilities to service one client with significant activity in the area. By developing pipeline-based facilities to connect to the clients’ gathering systems, we provided a more cost-efficient alternative to road hauling of wastewater. In the future, we aim to expand our broad range of services by adding pipeline connections at other locations and by enhancing offloading through pumps,” adds O’Brien.
Interestingly, White Owl has been a partner of choice for many trucking companies in the North Dakota region. Trucking companies gain high value from the speed of unloading and the accuracy of metering volumes that White Owl’s facilities have to offer. Optimized facility design allows truckers to offload the materials quickly and with greater accuracy. “Truckers usually get paid for each barrel they deliver to the disposal facility and they greatly benefit from quick turnaround times. In addition, the high precision in fluid measurement at our facilities eliminates any incongruence or discrepancy that may creep in while handling the barrels,” explains Juhlin.
Amid the current COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating impact on the oil and gas market, White Owl has taken a calculated step forward by expanding its midstream facility in Northwest Alberta, Canada through a joint venture with a reputable midstream and marketing company, while pausing its other capital projects in North Dakota. In the future, the company aims to expand its services to new locations and work with diverse technologies to provide greater benefits to its clients.