BNN Energy

The growth of unconventional oil and gas exploration techniques within the past eight years has given rise to a number of support industries. Chief among these is the need for water used in hydraulic fracturing activities.

As an engineering and construction consultant to oil and gas exploration and service companies, Jeff Nelson saw the growing need for water firsthand. Nelson and Mark Ritchie, an executive in the water solutions division of a global oil and gas solutions company, saw an opportunity for a new way to handle this need while working together.

“We saw inefficiencies in the lifecycle of water,” Ritchie says. “Water was mainly handled in a transactional way and was often moved using trucks. There was a lack of a long-term infrastructure approach, which drove up costs and personnel.”

In 2012, the two established their own company, BNN Energy, to offer the industry an alternative approach to water management. “We looked at water from a longer-term approach,” Ritchie adds. “We found the opportunity to move away from a transactional type of business to one where people are planning for the next five years and beyond.”

The Denver-based company provides permanent water infrastructure solutions covering the entire lifecycle of water, including sourcing, transport, storage, recycling and disposal. “We provide the capital to establish this infrastructure for clients,” Nelson says. This infrastructure includes pipelines, storage and treatment facilities.

BNN’s solutions give exploration companies certainty in the handling of their water and a way to make their operations more efficient. “The companies who work with us don’t have to engage multiple third parties,” he adds. “The companies that work with us know that with us, water can be sourced, shipped, stored, recycled and disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner, all with one company.”

Three Approaches
BNN takes a three-pronged approach to water infrastructure solutions.

The company’s Alpha Reclaim division contracts with municipalities to capture treated wastewater effluent from treatment plants and consolidates it into a single source – which it calls a “virtual effluent pipeline” – that can provide millions of gallons of water per day to exploration companies. “We’re re-using water that would have gone downstream and been discharged,” Nelson says.

In conjunction with Dow Chemical Co.’s energy and water solutions division, BNN provides produced and flowback water treatment and recycling services to oil and gas clients. BNN uses Dow products and technologies at fixed and mobile treatment facilities it maintains at client sites. These products are used to remove suspended solids and bacteria without the use of chemicals, Nelson notes.

The company’s third approach involves permanent water transfer infrastructure. BNN funds, designs, builds and operates fixed pipeline systems for water delivery and gathering. This approach significantly reduces transportation costs, environmental impact and safety issues.

In addition to these three approaches, BNN also provides water program management services including remote monitoring services through a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system it developed in-house. The SCADA system enables clients to view their flow rates and water levels in real-time through web based dashboards and apps, Nelson adds.

BNN has also partnered with MPC Containment to provide collapsible water storage tanks. One tank can hold the equivalent of 5,000 barrels, or 10 standard storage tanks. The company also offers floating covers used to protect and prevent evaporation in outdoor water basins.

Growth Opportunities
BNN is active in unconventional oil and gas exploration hotbeds. This includes its home state of Colorado in the Wattenberg-Niobrara basin, as well as in the Permian and Eagle Ford basins in Texas.

BNN looks to grow further thanks to its acquisition last year by Tallgrass Energy Partners, which owns a number of midstream energy companies. “We complement each other very well,” Nelson says. “With their financial backing, we are rapidly growing into larger projects and programs.”