Calgarian behind revolutionary Texas produced water technology

Texas produced water solution developed by Sandbox Resource Solutions

By David Wiechnik  

In west Texas, where water is scarce, Sandbox Resource Solutions has successfully introduced a cutting-edge produced water recycling technology that is welcomed by local oil and gas producers. 

Calgarian Chris Tesarski, CEO of Sandbox Resource Solutions, hopes to revolutionize produced water handling in West Texas.

Calgarian Chris Tesarski, CEO of Sandbox Resource Solutions, hopes to revolutionize produced water handling in West Texas.

Founded in 2012 by Calgary-native Chris Tesarski, the small Abilene, Texas-based company has developed a produced water recycling system that removes oils and solids out of wastewater more efficiently and cost effectively than previous traditional methods. 

“What sets us apart from other companies is that we use a nanopolymer and nanotechnology to take oil and solids out of the wastewater that comes from oil and gas wells,” said Tesarski.

The technology creates a crystal-clear solid brine, which can be used for a multitude of purposes, or depending on the solidity of the brine, can be turned into fresh water.

“We have done a lot of testing and work upfront with a group in Saskatchewan, and New Mexico Tech – a big engineering school,” said Tesarski in an interview.

What are the benefits?

“The number one benefit of our technology, is the cost,” Tesarski said. “We use very little energy to do what we do; the nanopolymer does its magic.”

Discharge tank for clean water, last stage catch filter and a line to take fresh water to wherever it needs to go. Photo: Sandbox Resource Solutions.

Discharge tank for clean water, last stage catch filter and a line to take fresh water to wherever it needs to go. Photo: Sandbox Resource Solutions.

Tesarski says the nanopolymer is highly concentrated. A small amount of chemical treats a considerable amount of produced water using low horsepower pumps and very little electricity.

Tesarski says Sandbox can treat produced water – after expenses – at less than one dollar a barrel.

“Even if oil is $45 a barrel, we’re processing at under one dollar [a barrel],” Tesarski said. “What a lot of companies didn’t calculate was the fact that if your process is six dollars a barrel, you typically will produce five to ten times the amount of water that you will oil.

“For every barrel of oil you produce at $45 you’re producing 6 barrels of water at six dollars a barrel, that’s $36 of water for every one barrel of oil.”

The Sandbox technology makes far more economic sense, says Tesarski.

“We’re producing [a barrel of water] at a dollar, and we’re producing six barrels of water for every barrel of oil, our cost is six bucks as opposed to $36.”

Ease of operation is a a big benefit to Sandbox customers, according to Tesarski, as most competing systems use filtration and “filters that are backed up have to constantly be changed.”

“Once we get our system up, installed, and running, we can show the pumper what to do, and the guy who goes out checking the wells every day is able to check on the system,” Tesarski said.

Sandbox says it can process produced water for $1 per barrel.

Sandbox says it can process produced water for $1 per barrel.

The company’s first commercial produced water operation is eight hours away from Calgary in Custer, Montana, where they are currently processing 900 barrels of water a day from oil wells.

“We’re working with a company from Denver that designed a multi-stage wetland system,” said Tesarski.

“The produced water comes out, it’s then processed, and goes into a series of descending ponds which flow into a wetlands and reservoir system on a lady’s ranch,” said Tesarski.

“What was once a completely dusty, bone-dry prairie grassland, is now a little reservoir oasis, and the lady has all the water she could ever possibly need.”

SRS’s also process cut down the number of trucks that were hauling produced water out of the Montana lease from 40 to two or three a week, decreasing the Denver company’s expenses.

Tesarski says leaving Alberta for Texas allowed Sandbox some latitude for testing and perfecting its produced water technology.

“The regulatory environment in Canada is very intense,” said Tesarski. “Here it’s a little less strict, so there’s more room to test products and tweak them.

“Furthermore, the cost of fabricating is so much less than in Canada.” 

Tesarski says that while it was a difficult decision to move his family to Abilene, there was also a great opportunity.

“I saw a need,” Tesarski said. “West Texas has no water, there are no reliable sources, and municipalities are looking for any possible way to get water into communities.

“I saw an opportunity to work with these communities, and provide them with a precious resource.”   

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