Leak-Proof Frac Tanks: The Revolutionary Oilfield Solution

[fa icon="calendar"] Jun 23, 2017 7:59:57 AM / by Scott Crain

Scott Crain

The Shale Revolution is a product of American Ingenuity, and enabled U.S. oil companies to halt the declining trajectory of domestic oil and gas reserves.

Between 2009 and 2015, U.S. crude oil production increased 83 percent, catapulting America to one of the top three crude oil producing countries in the world.

As completion and production technologies advance, field operations are pushing equipment to the limit - and sometimes past the point of failure. Concurrently, Safety and Environmental regulations are becoming more stringent - requiring service contractors, who actually perform the work in the field, to develop new tools and equipment to meet the harsh operating conditions.

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The Complications of Fracking

The most well known and controversial well completion procedure is called multistage hydraulic fracturing; a well-stimulation technique in which rock is fractured by injecting liquids into subsurface rock formations at very high pressure. The most common frac fluids are water and hydrochloric acid (HCL). These liquids must be safely transported and contained on the well site prior to being injected into the ground.

The average frac in Oklahoma requires about 42,000 gallons of hydrochloric acid, and current trends reveal oil companies are increasing the number of stages, and volumes per stage, which will result in significantly more acid being required in the future.

Since most well sites are located in close proximity to cropland and waterways used by livestock and municipal water treatment systems, storing large amounts of hydrochloric acid on a well site presents substantial contingent liabilities to oil companies.  A large acid spill results in damages that begin in the million dollar range, and can quickly climb higher depending on the extent of the spill.

To offset these costly liabilities, most oil companies install secondary containment berms around all acid tanks on the frac location. Some also install a poly mat underneath the tanks to protect the soil. These containment systems can cost up to $20,000.00 (or more) per location.

The Need for a Better Solution

Surprisingly, the standard acid storage tank used by the oil industry is a steel "frac" tank originally developed to store water. Even though acid corrodes steel, most acid tank operators simply install an acid resistant liner inside the frac tank, and call it an "acid tank". These liners are acid resistant coatingsapplied while wet, and becomes rigid when dry. During transport, the walls of the tank flex, and over time cause small cracks to develop in the liner which leads to a liner failure. Other causes of liner failure are lack of proper maintenance, substandard liner material, and harsh conditions in the field - all cause liners to fail, and they fail often, resulting in acid spills.

The average life span of an acid tank liner is one to two years. The cost of installing a new liner averages $15,000.00 per tank. There have been many attempts by acid tank operators to address liner failures, and they always focus on improving the liner itself. Until now, no company has solved the problem.

Texoma MFG has designed and patented a new acid tank which eliminates liner failures by isolating the interior walls of the tank from the acid. By containing the acid in a polyethylene bladder inside the tank, the interior tank walls never come into contact with acid. This allows the tank to become the required secondary containment structure.

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