Posted: 9:19 a.m. Monday, April 22, 2013
By Lori Hawkins
Austin startup Omni Water Solutions, which sells water treatment technology for use in fracking operations, has raised $4 million to accelerate product development.
The company received the funding from Austin Ventures and individual investors connected to land, oil and gas businesses in the Eagle Ford Shale region of Texas. Omni, which has 42 employees, raised $7.9 million last year from the same group of investors.
CEO Warren Sumner said the funding will allow Omni to expand its technology, which lets oil companies recycle millions of gallons of water used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
The company was founded in 2010 by Wayne Wolfe, a 25-year veteran of the water treatment industry and former CEO of Ozone Technology, an Austin-based water purification system.
Fracking is the high-pressure injecting of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to release oil and gas. The practice has become increasingly used to recover oil and gas from rock formations that were previously difficult to reach.
A single fracking process uses an average of 4 million gallons of water per well. The water is trucked in, becomes contaminated in the fracking process and is then trucked back out for disposal.
Omni’s system, which is 53 feet long and fits in the back of a tractor-trailer, uses built-in intelligence that automatically adjusts to changing conditions. It removes contaminants from the water, allowing it to be reused many times.
Omni is one of a growing number of players competing to provide new technology to oil companies engaged in fracking.
“It’s a gold rush; it’s the wild wild west,” said Warren Sumner, Omni’s CEO. “There are lots of different companies trying to treat water by taking different approaches. Some we think are a bit limited in their ability to take out the objectionable contaminants. We think the treatment requires a little more sophisticated approach, which is what we have developed.”
Omni has worked with eight large independent oil and gas companies running operations in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford Shale, Sumner said.