Velda Addison, Hart Energy

GE and Statoil are giving away $25,000 prizes with a chance for more.

Well, the two are not exactly giving it away. You have to earn it by coming up with an innovative solution to their water reduction and reuse challenge.

The challenge, announced July 7, follows a similar one aimed at reducing the amount of sand needed to drill and maintain productive wells.

This time, water takes the spotlight in the companies’ crowd-sourcing efforts to find ways to reduce the amount of water used in shale developments. The goal is also to find better treatment and reuse water solutions at such developments—without sacrificing productivity, of course.

“Ideas at any scale are welcome,” said Lars Høier, senior vice president of research, development and innovation for Statoil ASA. “Even incremental strides in improving water management can add up to significant conservation gains.”

Høier explained how Statoil recently fractured two wells with 100% produced water, saving 3.5 million gallons of freshwater per well.

“We are eager to do more to help move the industry toward better water conservation,” he added.

Entries must contain a brief non-confidential description of the proposed technology along with scientific support for the proposed technology and preliminary non-confidential evidence; a technical approach; and the participant’s expertise and capabilities such as any relevant prior projects or experience, according to challenge rules.

Participants may focus on one of two areas:

  • Efficiently and cost-effectively clean and reuse water. As stated in the challenge’s entry guidelines and requirements, this focus includes wastewater treatment technology to produce water that is clean enough to reuse for drilling new wells and technology to produce clean water. The category also includes technology that extracts valuable products, such as hydrochloric acid or potassium carbonate, from wastewater and real-time water analysis system.
  • Use less fresh water during completions. The technology must prevent salt deposition in tubing, while also showing little or no toxicity and disruption to oil and gas production.

Up to five winners will be selected, each receiving $25,000 cash. Each will also have a chance to get additional funding for six months to continue developing the winning technology, make it commercial, or both. That brings the total prize pool up to $375,000, according to a news release about the challenge.

“This collaboration with Statoil is centered on both our companies’ commitment to continued investment in technology and innovation to help develop low-cost and more efficient energy solutions,” said Eric Gebhardt, chief technology officer for GE Oil and Gas. “We recognize that great ideas transcend any one company or geography, which is why we’ve launched this open innovation challenge.”

The worldwide challenge is open to individuals as well as institutions and companies of all sizes.

The deadline is Sept. 24. For more information and details, go online. Winners will be announced in November.

Contact the author, Velda Addison, at