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Bechtel announces sustained operation of pilot desalination system in Texas

| By Mary Bailey

Bechtel (Reston, Va.) announced the sustained pilot operations of its proprietary Low Energy Ejector Desalination System (LEEDS) – a new process solution that creates a valuable new supply of water for customers and communities, which in turn reduces stress on limited freshwater resources.

LEEDS is an efficient, cost-effective, end-to-end solution that converts produced water from oil and gas fields into usable, end-marketable products. The recovered water can be used for agriculture or grassland irrigation, feedstocks for industrial uses such as hydrogen production, fertilizers for agricultural uses, and clean water for industrial and community applications. By transforming a costly byproduct into a useful resource, LEEDS allows customers to handle produced water responsibly while also alleviating water scarcity.

The LEEDS Pilot Unit is installed and operating at Deep Blue’s saltwater disposal site near the Midland Airport. The field testing of the LEEDS Pilot Unit is expected to run through Q2 2024 (Source: Bechtel)

“To build a better world, we must confront significant challenges head-on. The crisis of water scarcity in the Permian Basin is growing increasingly prevalent. LEEDS is Bechtel’s resolute response, unlocking untapped water resources and transforming produced water into valuable products,” said Paul Marsden, President of Bechtel Energy. “LEEDS can revolutionize the treatment of produced water, enabling our customers to reclaim more than half of the water they process each day. This technology yields substantial economic advantages for our customers and communities, forging a path towards a more sustainable future for the Permian Basin and beyond.” 

Bechtel has been field testing LEEDS with Deep Blue Holdings, LLC, a portfolio company of Five Point Energy, at a saltwater disposal well near Midland, Texas, in the Permian Basin since December 2023. Today, Bechtel shared that the system is consistently treating 400 barrels per day and meeting all performance specifications for recovery, energy efficiency, and water quality. At scale, customers using LEEDS could recover enough clean water to meet the daily water needs of the City of Midland, Texas. Bechtel expects that ongoing pilot operations will prove out further application opportunities and showcase LEEDS for customers who can benefit most from treating produced water.

“LEEDS is a transformative solution, and we are honored to partner with Bechtel on this most critical initiative, which presents compelling benefits for all stakeholders,” said David Capobianco, Chief Executive Officer of Five Point Energy. “The pilot results represent another milestone in our collective journeys to treat and preserve water in an environmentally efficient and economic manner. With very promising results to date, LEEDS is on a pathway to desalinating produced water, at scale, across the Permian Basin, while reducing reliance on freshwater sources.”