Wheeling Not in GreenHunter’s Immediate Future

April 24, 2015
Shale Play

WHEELING - GreenHunter Resources plans to barge what the company calls "oilfield waste" from local natural gas operations along the Ohio River by the end of the year, but the firm will not be loading the waste onto barges in the Warwood section of Wheeling.

At least not anytime soon.

"That is not in our (immediate) plans," Kirk Trosclair, GreenHunter executive vice president and chief operating officer, said last week when asked about the Wheeling facility along North 28th Street, which his company bought two years ago and worked to turn into a loading facility. "That is in our secondary funding."

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He said the company has "multiple options" from which to load and ship the waste, which comes from hydraulic fracturing operations and is classified by the U.S. Coast Guard as "shale gas extraction wastewater." However, Trosclair would not specify where the locations are located.

GreenHunter last week announced to its shareholders that the company had secured a $16 million loan to help pay for infrastructure needed to barge the fracking waste along the Ohio River. Plans call for shipping the material south so workers can dump it in disposal wells located in Meigs County, Ohio.

Trosclair said GreenHunter is operating "near full capacity as exploration and production companies understand that water disposal services and fluids management decisions, regardless of commodity prices, are critical to ensure that a producing well is never shut-in."

"We are proceeding ahead with our plans to barge oilfield wastewater along the Ohio waterway and plan to begin development of our first barge receiving terminal this quarter," Trosclair said. "We are hopeful that this terminal will be complete and in service before year-end, with additional water based terminals to follow."

Controversy over the shipping plan began in January when Trosclair reported GreenHunter had received permission from the U.S. Coast Guard to barge hydraulic fracturing wastewater along rivers, as company officials had maintained this was the obstacle preventing them from constructing their Warwood recycling center.

Shortly after Trosclair made his statements, Cynthia Znati, lead chemical engineer for the Coast Guard's hazardous materials division, said the presence of radioactivity in "shale gas extraction wastewater" is the primary difference between this material and the more traditional "oilfield waste." She said the company had permission to ship oilfield waste, but not extracted shale wastewater.

While Znati said the Coast Guard needed to continue reviewing whether the radioactive "shale gas extraction wastewater" should be barged, Trosclair said GreenHunter would ship the material via the "oilfield waste" classification.

"As it stands today, we are allowed to ship it under oilfield waste," Trosclair reiterated Thursday. "When the Coast Guard comes up with rules concerning shale gas extraction wastewater, we will abide by them."

However, also on Thursday, Coast Guard spokeswoman Lt. Sarah Janaro said the Department of Homeland Security is now reviewing the "shale gas extraction wastewater" issue, likely because it contains radioactive materials.

"This matter is still in internal deliberations and I don't have any further information at this time," Homeland Security spokesman Justin Greenberg said.

As for the proposed Warwood site, the Wheeling Planning Commission approved "Phase 1" of GreenHunter's project in 2013. Site plans at the time showed the company planned to build 23 separate 1,000-barrel tanks on the 2.35-acre site, some of which would hold clean rainwater, while others would contain reusable frack water, drilling waste fluid, or flowback water.

Wheeling leaders maintain, however, that GreenHunter does not have permission to use the barging infrastructure at Warwood because they said the area alongside the Wheeling Heritage Trail is zoned for "residential" use.



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