Thursday, July 30, 2009

Even those in the Oil and Gas Industry Believe Water Is An Issue

Even a year ago, some in the industry were concerned about water usage and contamination. They admit large amounts of water is needed and not reusable. They also acknowledge continuing drought conditions as a concern. It is the OPINION of the Texas Railroad Commission that waste water is the most common oilfield waste in the state.

Large amounts of fresh water are used in hydraulic fracturing. The water returns to the surface with dissolved salt in it, rendering it unusable. E&P operations in the Barnett shale use about 120 million barrels—5 billion gallons—of fresh water annually. Disposal costs an average of $2 to $9.50 per barrel.

According to the Texas Railroad Commission, waste water is the most common oilfield waste in the state.

“That’s water that is lost forever,” says Marty Walter, vice president of field operations for STW. “With much of the Western U.S. facing continuing drought conditions, the industry has a lot of eyes on it over water issues.”

Water-quality issues were behind a special meeting of producers involved in the Marcellus shale play by Pennsylvania state officials. Their concern over the loss of fresh water has the state studying possible new laws governing water use. The opening of the Marcellus shale has companies and state and local officials at odds on such areas as what kind of permits are needed for companies to draw large amounts of fresh water from streams and lakes for drilling.

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