American Oil and Gas Reporter - August 2017 - 62

SpecialReport: Hydraulic Fracturing Technology
can provide $5 for every barrel of water.
In our project in Utah, we could be
looking at the better part of $10 a barrel
from contained lithium," Lazerson says.
"Assuming lithium carbonate is selling
at $10,000 a ton, a reasonable price, the
gain works out to approximately $1 a
barrel for every 100 milligrams of lithium
in a liter of water. The exact amount will
vary based on the lithium's quality, but
it can add up quickly."
The minerals contained in produced
water vary from formation to formation.
As with oil production, Lazerson indicates
concentrations start high but gradually
decline as a field ages. However, he says
the high water volumes in mature fields
can make mineral extraction economic
even for water with low mineral content.
Deployment Model
Lazerson says MGX Minerals plans
to deploy its technology in its own fields
and through partnership agreements with
other operators that combine traditional
water handling fees with credits or royalties
from extracted minerals.

In mid-July, Lazerson said MGX
had begun manufacturing a pilot plant
capable of processing 600 bbl/d and
planned to start manufacturing commercial plants in August or September.
These plants would be able to handle
7,000 bbl/d, making them well-suited
for deployment at small disposal wells,
which Lazerson says often see 5,00010,000 bbl/d.
"We have several demonstration projects ready to go and are finalizing where
the initial units will be deployed," he remarks. "We are trying to pick a variety
of spots around the country so we will
have broad data on which to draw when
we evaluate future projects."
In the long run, Lazerson ventures
that extracting lithium from produced
water will become the primary means of
meeting growing demand for that mineral.
"The two most common methods of producing lithium involve evaporating brine
in huge lakes, which can take 18 months,
and hard rock mining, which has high
exploration risks, steep investment minimums and complex permitting require-

ments," he says.
Lazerson describes produced water as
more environmentally-friendly and reliable. "In produced water, the oil and gas
industry already generates enough lithium
brine to meet domestic demand and possibly serve export markets," he assesses.
"The infrastructure to transport that brine
exists in the form of produced water
pipelines. All we need to add is technology
to extract the minerals."
If electric vehicles and lithium-based
energy storage systems take off, Lazerson
predicts the oil and gas industry will be
a key part of the success. "It is interesting
to think what that will mean for environmentalists who love electric vehicles
and renewable energy but traditionally
have opposed drilling and pipelines,"
he muses.
Small Oil Droplets
Gravity-based oil and water separators
often leave behind micron-sized oil
droplets that can prevent water from
meeting discharge standards, observes
Saebom Ko, a research associate in the

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