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Water Management Techbook 2018

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EPmag.com | April 2018 | 41 WATER MANAGEMENT: BEST PRACTICES "When you're using hundreds of thousands of barrels of water, it makes a huge difference to your costs," Georgie said. Some suggest that disposing of water by rein- jecting it into the reservoir and buying freshwater is cheaper than treating produced water, he said. However, Georgie said they may not factor in all expenses such as the cost of handling the water at the injection site and the financial and community cost of transporting water by truck. Given the vast quantity of water produced each day, and the need for water in operations like frac- turing, some companies are seeking ways to better move around water. This is particularly evident in the Permian Basin, Henthorne said. Midstream water management is "a burgeoning area," she said. "A number of companies are thinking strategically about water. They're looking at pipe- lines to move the water volumes around. The goal is to get away from trucking." In some locations it's necessary to minimize the impact of trucks carrying water. These trucks don't just contribute to congestion. The water transport trucks are heavy and can eventually damage roads. Getting pipeline infrastructure into place to move produced water requires many of the same hurdles other pipelines must clear, such as acquiring rights of way. "It's quite a complicated puzzle they're trying to put the pieces together for," Henthorne said. "The Permian will be a great case study about how to do this economically and cost effectively, and the other basins could adopt it." Unconventional variables Unconventional fields differ from conventional fields in more than just the fact that unconvention- als produce from the source rock. "When you deal with a conventional field, you are dealing with a consistent water composition," Georgie said. "In unconventional fields, all of them have a variation in the water. When you have incon- sistency, you have different challenges. When you have inconsistency, it changes from day to day, and it makes it much more challenging for how to deal with it, such as flow assurance issues." While a lot of operators use freshwater for frac- turing jobs, that approach is not sustainable. As such, some operators have begun using the produced water for fracturing jobs, which offers some cost benefits, Georgie said. When an operator wants to reuse water produced from an unconventional well to fracture a well, the daily produced water from the lease may not be enough. One option is to store up the water volume, which requires infrastructure. Many are opting to use whatever treated produced water they have from the field and supplement it with freshwater or treated sewage water. The problem with using treated sewage water is the potential for biological activities that are a far cry from those native to the reservoir. "Putting the two together can be challenging," Georgie said. "To be frank, I don't think we have a clear answer for that. Are we treating it effectively? I don't believe so. When using water and recycling, every time you take it through a cycle, you are increasing the activity." One of the chief challenges Georgie foresees is finding a good best practice for reusing produced water that must be mixed with other water sources. "That's probably going to be the future normal," Georgie said. "But we need to find a way to treat that water effectively because if we don't, the problem is going to be exacerbated." Tightening regulations Regulations for treating and disposing of produced water vary by location. "These regulations are constant moving tar- gets for what people need in terms of treat- ment," Henthorne said. For instance, it is possible to obtain dis- posal well permits in Texas while other states don't permit disposal wells. Adaptable systems with the ability to effectively treat varying inlet water quality is crucial in successful treatment of produced and flowback water. (Photo courtesy of Water Standard)

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