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Water Management Techbook 2017

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EPmag.com | May 2017 | 3 WATER MANAGEMENT: OVERVIEW ties of water to fracture and free the trapped oil and gas, but not without a cost. In 2014 the unconven- tional oil and gas industry spent close to $6.4 billion on water supply chain management, according to a Bluefield Research report. Like most everything in oil and gas E&P, adoption of recycle and reuse is shale-play dependent. What works in one might not work in another due to a variety of criteria like access to water sup- plies, regulatory factors, proximity to population centers and suitable underground formations for wastewater disposal. However, just like no two res- ervoirs are alike, there is no "one-size-fits-all shale plays" water management solution when it comes to unconventional oil and gas development. "While all operators seek to minimize costs, the economics of water supply chain management are largely driven by basin-specific water regulations and constraints," said the authors of a May 2016 report on water usage in U.S. unconventional oil and gas drilling published by the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA). Those basin-specific differences have kept water management teams busy in the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford looking for suitable supplies while teams at work in the Bakken and Marcellus look for suit- able disposal solutions. According to the SIPA report, operators face no serious water constraints in the Bakken region due to its low population density and abundant freshwater supply. With surface water options like the Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea, Bakken producers have little need to use groundwater. In the Marcellus, the Susquehanna and Ohio riv- ers provide ample surface water, but tight regulatory oversight has lead to increased water management costs. The high population density of the region is cited in the report as being a major regulatory driver. Standing in stark contrast to the Bakken and Marcellus are the Permian Basin and Eagle Ford regions where operators face "more acute water con- straints, including high groundwater stress and an ongoing threat of drought," the SIPA report stated, noting that water demand for hydraulic fracturing is met though the use of groundwater resources. While recycling and reuse are becoming a larger part of standard operating procedures in the devel- opment of unconventional oil and gas resources, there are some regions where the cost to do so is greater than the cost to dispose. In the Bakken, for example, there is little incentive for operators to recy- cle as there are "plentiful wastewater disposal wells" and the wastewater has "a saline content higher than ocean water" and makes recycling a challenge, according to the SIPA report. Recycling rates in the Bakken are about 2%, according to the Bluefield Research report. In contrast—due to a lack of disposal wells in Pennsylvania and large transportation costs of trucking wastewater to Ohio for disposal—the average recycling rates in the Marcellus are 80% to 90% of the total wastewater produced in the basin, according to the SIPA report. For the Permian Basin, the average recycling rate for the Midland sub-basin is about 2%, with no recy- cling reported in the Delaware sub-basin. Brackish groundwater provides 80% and fresh groundwater provides 20% of the Delaware's water supplies, the report noted. In the Eagle Ford there is a large vol- ume of flowback water available for recycling, but its oily and highly saline nature make recycling an "often prohibitively expensive" option, according to the SIPA report. Advances in technology and the smart manage- ment that experience brings have allowed the indus- try to better balance meeting operators' needs with that of the public. For example, centralized onsite water storage and recycling facilities have reduced transportation demands, leading to fewer trucks on the road. Pipelines are replacing trucks as midstream infrastructure is being built out to move water from Point A to Points B, C or Z. The Internet of Things and Big Data are gaining greater acceptance in the water management world, with hardware and software companies developing the robust kit needed to make real-time monitoring and remote operation of water systems possible. Wastewater can now be traded like a commodity through a system that marries the beauty of online booking systems like Airbnb with the efficiency of a Google search, turning a cost center into a potential profit center for operators. Included in this first issue of Hart Energy's Water Management Techbook is an extensive listing of key players in the water management technology space. We also look at a few best practices when it comes to the safe and secure management of water resources. A discussion on the advancements in new and old technologies being used in water management to help operators reuse produced water in an envi- ronmentally friendly manner also is featured. Case study examples that demonstrate the evolution of water management, like online booking of water services, recycling rather than disposing of water in the Permian Basin and the effective treatment of water using biocides are included. n

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