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INTERview












Agricultural Company Brings Innovation to the Oilfield


Darlene Nash

CEO


Encore Green Environmental

www.encoregreenenvironmental.com

https://agwatersoilsolutions.com/


Contact:

Jeff Holder

818.470.0285

jeff.holder@encoregreenenvironmental.com


Interview conducted by:

Lynn Fosse, Senior Editor

CEOCFO Magazine


Published – March 30, 2020


CEOCFO: Ms. Nash, what is the grand vision behind Encore Green Environmental™?  

Ms. Nash: My grand vision is to make sure that farmers and ranchers in the arid states no longer worry about growing their crops for their animals, which in turn feeds the world. As you probably know, the more water on the ground, the greater growth we have. With greater vegetation, greater photosynthesis means we have better air quality. Eventually, we will not have to worry about having enough water for our children. We have to take this produced water and safely clean it up and put it to good use. We must stop throwing away water in the arid west. That is really the bottom line for me. That is how we started.  


CEOCFO: How do you get there?  

Ms. Nash: Encore Green Environmental is an agricultural company that brings together two industries. The first is the oil and gas industry that is throughout the arid West. When fracking happens, three to five, sometimes even six times the amount of by-product water comes with the oil. For every one barrel of oil, and a barrel is forty two gallons, for every one barrel of oil that comes out, three, four, five times the amount of what is called by-product or “produced water” also comes out. This water is being pulled from the earth because of the fracking process. However, you cannot just start to drink it, because it has chemicals in it, and it has been mixed with oil, so it needs to be cleaned.


Historically, though, it’s not cleaned. You just put it on a truck, and then truck it over to a place that has an injection well, where under high pressure they inject this water back into the ground. Now, the big problems are that they are running out of places to inject, the regulators are increasingly not wanting to grant injection permits, there’s seismic activity being attributed to these injection wells, and we are burning a lot of fossil fuel to truck water to these injection wells. Water is very heavy and it takes a lot of energy to truck it. This is becoming just a real problem for that industry and the bottom line is that they have too much water.


Then, you sit over here and there are ranchers who, because this is arid land in the West, do not have enough water. Therefore, we have got these two industries; one with too much water and one with too little water. However, they actually share the exact same acreage. That’s because the oil wells often sit on a rancher’s land.


Historically these two groups just have not come together. However, what we have been doing is bringing these two stake holders together, along with a third unspoken stakeholder of the environmental groups, to say, “Look, what we are offering you is a better way. Let us clean up this water right here in proximity to the well. Let us just clean it up and then land-apply it, irrigating the grasslands.”


The grand vision is that once that starts happening, the drilling is able to continue because they are not having to figure out what to do with the water. The environmentalists are happy because we are no longer doing injection, not putting this water of unknown makeup back into the ground. The landowner is then getting water, which they desperately need. The air quality even improves because increased vegetation means more carbon pulled from the air.


That is what we have done. We hold a patent pending methodology called Conservation By-Design™, which is the key to all of it. That is the heart and soul of Encore Green Environmental. This process provides fail/safe methodology so that the water is safe, ideal for the soil’s particular makeup, and matches the regulatory guidelines. And, all of this is publicly transparent. It’s also traceable so that every drop is accounted for.


CEOCFO: What led you to this?

Ms. Nash: First all, I was born and raised back east. We do not have an issue with water back east. When we moved here to Wyoming, I didn’t have any idea that there was a shortage of water anywhere in the United States! That was a zinger, when I learned that!


My husband Marvin, who is my senior advisor, worked for a company called EOG at one time and now and then I would go out on location and I would say, “What are all these bodies of water? What is this? Everywhere there are little bodies of water!” He said, “That was produced water. It comes up out of the ground with the oil and they have to do something with it, because it is, in my words, dirty water.”


They put it into these ponds and they “hope” it will evaporate and no one knows how long that takes! Here is Wyoming, those ponds are sometimes skating rinks. I thought to myself, “Well then, if they are not reusing that water they are using our good water from the aquifer. Therefore, what do our kids use, what do we use?” It made no sense to me. That is what got me started on the whole thing. I just knew there had to be a way.


CEOCFO: Would you explain how Conservation By-Design works?

Ms. Nash: First, I would like to point your readers to our website, which is EncoreGreenEnvironmental.com/CBD. There’s a little bit of animation there to help you understand what happens.


First of all, the soil, is tested. It’s tested to find out its current chemical makeup. We call it the DNA of the soil, though it is not technically the DNA. Then, we ask, “What does that DNA in the soil need to be in order to grow vegetation?” Because what we are measuring and testing is dry, dusty dirt that just has not had enough water on it. Therefore, we analyze the soil, and then we analyze the water that is coming out of the oil well. That water makeup is actually a trade secret of the oil company and we sign a non-disclosure agreement that allows us to learn what’s in it. Then, based upon what is in the water and what is in the soil, we then create a treatment plan of how to clean that water. Of course, all of our parameters must match the regulatory permit.  Mostly, it is removing the bad material, like the salt.


There might be some elements that we should actually leave in, because the soil needs it or conversely, where the soil already has that nutrient and too much would be bad, we then remove that nutrient. It’s a customized plan and that is why it’s called Conservation By-Design, because every bit of acreage is different. That gives us two test results. We have the soil test results and we have got the water test results. We combine these to form a cleaning process. That is testing number one.


CEOCFO: What happens to the water after all of the testing?

Ms. Nash: The water is then batched. You know how pharmaceuticals are batched or how, let us say, certain vegetables are batched so that if someone is sick after eating bad lettuce, you can actually go back say, “Okay, it came from this farm and this acreage.”


The same thing happens with water. We are batching the water in about five hundred barrel containers. That water is then being tagged. All of this information is being automatically fed into a database website, which is AgWaterSoilSolutions.com. That way the public is able to know what we are doing. Historically, there has been a lot of mystery and suspicion. Whether that is warranted or not, there is still the suspicion about what this water is and we completely understand that. Therefore, we want to always be completely transparent about what we’re doing.


The water goes through a process where it is cleaned. It is run through what basically looks like a large piece of equipment, maybe the size of a U-Haul trailer, sitting in proximity to the oil well. Then the water goes through what we call the fail-safe phase. The fail-safe phase is when that water is then tested a second time. Then if the water matches what the cleaning plan says it should, it then moves on out and gets applied to the land. If it does not, it goes back in and gets cleaned a second time. If there is still some kind of unique problem, then that batch must be traditionally disposed. The idea is for the water to be continually be put onto the land, but nothing goes out onto the land until it has met the fail-safe standard.


The other aspect is we use Blockchain to provide public transparency. Blockchain is a technology that essentially allows data to be recorded but cannot be changed or hacked. By doing this, we make ourselves completely accountable. We use a third-party lab and they don’t hand us the test results and then we hand them over to the website. Instead, they upload it via Blockchain. Blockchain is carrying this data onto the website. We do not even touch the data. That way we are not manipulating things; we are making it all completely above board.


CEOCFO: You now have good water flowing. Is this a onetime event?

Ms. Nash: Then once that water is flowing, it’s not just a onetime event. It is a continual event. We have moisture probes strategically placed throughout the entire acreage. In real time we can remotely watch the moisture levels rise. That way we can say, “Too much water, we need to move some over here. That’s not enough water to keep them going over here, so they need more.” We work with the landowner with his water goals.


The end result is that it actually creates what we call a total ecological solution, because originally, our first thing was just, “Let us just get this water put to good use.” In fact, the language in the constitution of Wyoming calls it, “putting it to beneficial use.” Therefore, we are going to put it to beneficial use and not throw it away.


However, then there are actually greater consequences from it, because now we have got this dry, dusty, dead dirt that now has become healthy soil. With that healthy soil you have got more vegetation. You have vegetation where there was none or you have got an increase in vegetation if you had only a little bit. Vegetation is going to hold the good, healthy soil; the wind is not going to blow it away. We end up with more vegetative growth. That’s when photosynthesis releases more oxygen in the air and pulls, or sequesters, the carbon into the roots and soil. This creates better air quality with less carbon. We are just tapping into what Mother Nature already figured out. We are trying to help climate change, using Mother Nature’s methodology, which is “Let us just get more green things growing.”


CEOCFO: Is your technology and process only for landowners?

Ms. Nash: We are not just talking about landowners and ranchers; just to clarify, we are also talking about maybe just putting it out on the grassland, just to have something good and healthy and positive to do with the water, not necessarily growing grass for livestock. Right now, none of this is being conceived of as relating to any crops.


CEOCFO: What has been the response from the community, from potential customers?  

Ms. Nash: The response has been varied. The landowners say, “Where do we sign up?” The oil companies and the environmental groups, when we first started, were a little reluctant because you are talking about something new and things that are new take time for people to get used to. What we have found is that as we continue to communicate, as we continue to write articles, we have turned a lot of corners. We finally received the first permit to actually put the water to land and apply the water in Wyoming.


CEOCFO: Are there regulations you need to consider?

Ms. Nash: The other stakeholder that I did not mention before is actually the regulators who are charged with making sure everything is safe. They are a group that, because they are the guardians, inherently do not want to embrace a new idea; not because they are bad people, but just because they are trying to make sure everything is safe. It took a number of tests and communication to help them to get to the point where they issued the first permit.


As far as we know, it is the first-ever permit that Wyoming has issued for a land application like this. With that, then it starts to snowball. We are working in New Mexico, we are working in Texas, but Wyoming is actually the furthest along in terms of a regulatory pathway and with oil companies starting to embrace it. However, New Mexico is not far behind. We are part of a New Mexico Consortium which is charged with handling this produced water.


The response has been positive and they are warming up to us. We have actually turned a lot of corners. Even this morning, we had a conversation with an oil company that had been a little reluctant or a little slow. They basically said, “Alright yes, let us start putting together a plan for at least the pilot if not the whole thing.” Therefore, we are excited, because we are starting to see a response, though it has been uphill, quite frankly, to start something brand new.    


CEOCFO: Are you seeking investment or funding for Encore Green Environmental as you move forward?  

Ms. Nash: Yes, we are. This is a rather large nut to crack. Marvin and I have invested close to one million dollars in life savings and insurance policies. We believe so much in this that, let us just say, we have spent our children’s inheritance on this idea and I think it is going to be well worth it in the end. We have had investors and yes, we are entertaining conversations with others.


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“We have to take this produced water and safely clean it up and put it to good use. We must stop throwing away water in the arid west.”- Darlene Nash

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