Playbooks Supplements

Water Management Techbook 2017

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2 | May 2017 | WATER MANAGEMENT: OVERVIEW F or such a simple molecule of two hydrogen atoms to one oxygen atom, water carries with it significant complexities wherever it flows. In its simplicity is the versatility that has lead to the application of water in all facets of life. Take energy production, for example. Not only is water critical in the production of energy; it also is its own waste product. The relationship between the two is loosely defined as the water-energy nexus. From electrical power generation to the extraction, transportation and processing of oil and gas and more, maintaining balance within the nexus is a primary goal. One of the petroleum industry's great ironies is that it takes water to make oil recovery possible. Known for a dogged refusal to mix, water and oil manage to coexist in reservoir formations that, with- out using one to drill for the other, producing either or both would be impossible. Water is a primary ingredient in the drilling fluid pumped downhole to keep the drillbit cool before carrying cuttings back to the surface for the geologists to decipher like tea leaves, looking for insights into the formation. Water is the hammer cracking open fractures in shale while simultaneously delivering proppant to hold open the escape route for oil and gas to find the fastest path to freedom. Water cleans the new well of excess solids once it is put on production during a flowback. Over the multi-decade life of the well, wastewater will be produced that will require disposal or recycling. The story of oil (and gas, too) is a water story. Because of this duality, the business of an E&P company is more about safe and responsible water handling than it is about recovering oil and gas. As Global Water Intelligence reported in a March 2011 market profile, "The oil industry is effectively a water industry that delivers oil as a byproduct. In the North American onshore oil industry, eight barrels of water are brought to the surface for every barrel of oil." However, the petroleum industry long ago found a way to make those eight barrels of produced water work for them in applications like EOR. In the devel- opment of shale resources, those barrels, for exam- ple, can become after treatment a supply source for reuse in hydraulic fracturing operations. The onset of the shale gale more than a decade ago brought with it the need for significant quanti- Advanced water management techniques coupled with innovative thinking and new technologies are helping balance the needs of unconventional oil and gas E&P with the needs of the public. Oil and Water Do Mix By Jennifer Presley Senior Editor, Production Technologies Water in all its forms is a key ingredient in the development of oil and gas resources. (Photo by Tom Fox, courtesy of Oil and Gas Investor)

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