MARIETTA - Operations at GreenHunter Water's New Matamoras brine storage facility will not be slowed or halted, the company president said despite recent reports that parent company GreenHunter Resources has been financially struggling in the wake of a pair of bad acquisitions in Texas.
The Texas-based wastewater management company cited operating losses of $2.1 million for the second quarter of 2013 in its recent quarterly report, prompting British water industry analysis magazine "Global Water Intelligence" to decree that "GreenHunter Resources is teetering on the verge of insolvency."
However, the company's financial woes aren't as dire as have been reported, said Jonathan Hoopes, GreenHunter Resources president.
"On Dec. 31, 2012, we made the acquisition of two South Texas entities. We're on record saying that was a bad acquisition," he said.
The companies, White Top Oilfield Construction LLC, and Black Water Services LLC, seemed to provide additive services for GreenHunter's customers, made up of large and independent oil companies. However, the new companies, which washed oil rigs and readied well locations, soon proved to have large overheads for services that were better outsourced, said Hoopes.
"We worked to correct those problems during second quarter...and the rig washing and well pad completion services have been discontinued," he said.
Shutting down the services cost approximately 35 jobs, he said.
Now that those operational costs have been cut, the company is looking forward to rebounding in the second half of the year, in large part thanks to its operations in Appalachia, where the company owns and operates nine commercial Underground Injection Control Program wells, Hoopes said.
"If you go back to 2012, GreenHunter's first year as a water services company, we had $17 million in revenue...Over $16 million of that came from Appalachian operations," he said.
In fact, the location on Ohio 7 has been the site of a recent upgrade and still more is planned, said Hoopes.
Recently a "Frac-Cycle" system has been installed at the location. The system takes high solid-content fluid waste left over from the fracking process, removes the solid components, and produces brine that companies can reuse, he said.
An injection well near the New Matamoras facility will also be the location of the company's first fully operational Modular Above Ground fluids storage tank, a "next generation massive storage device" that Hoopes helped invent.
And after recently receiving written confirmation from the U.S. Coast Guard, the company plans to begin moving brine at the facility by barge.
"As long as we adhere to the oilfield waste handling protocols as published by the Coast Guard, then we are allowed to haul by barge. Early 2014 is when we expect to be moving product by barge," said Hoopes.
The prospect of brine being transported on the Ohio River has long been a concern for local groups who have taken an interest in the environmental effects of fracking.
"The concern is of course the content of the chemicals used in this disposal is unknown," said Jann Adams, a member of the local Southeast Ohio Fracking Interest Group. "No one plans on an accident, but if this stuff gets in the water, it is creating a huge area of contamination-all the way from the accident to the Gulf of Mexico."
The Ohio River is a source of drinking water for five million people, pointed out fellow SEOFIG member Betsy Cook.
"I think people all along the Ohio River are concerned," she said.
Several area fracking interest groups are coming together to sponsor the Great Ohio River Relay, which will promote events along the river to raise awareness about the environmental concerns associated with fracking, said Cook.