Industry Broadens Efforts on Water Management

Recent trends in water management have taken a more-comprehensive and holistic approach toward the stewardship of water as a critical resource. The industry has broadened its view to address the complete life cycle of water, from the effect of water use, to the reuse or recycling of water, to the final disposal of water.

In unconventional reservoirs, the use of fresh water for fracturing fluids has been reduced greatly by the development of chemistries that facilitate the use of nonfreshwater sources and flowback fluids. In recent years, the participation of midstream water companies has changed the dynamics of water management, improving the processes by which water is conveyed and increasing the use of flowback or produced water. These companies are playing an increasing role in the infrastructure and operation of water management, sometimes owning and operating water pipelines and water-storage, produced-water-treatment, and produced-water disposal facilities.

Operators such as Southwestern Energy are taking a progressive approach in an effort to become freshwater-neutral, as outlined in paper SPE 187123. This company, as an example, defines “freshwater-neutral” as a status in which the total water used is less than the sum of the alternative water and offsets. This company is using a combination of water-treatment technologies, aggressive water-reuse strategies, and conservation projects in local communities to achieve this goal.

Technological advances have enabled a better understanding of the potential environmental impact of final disposal of produced water. This understanding derives from improved modeling and a deeper understanding of the relationship between water-disposal techniques and the environment, including the potential effect of injection wells on induced seismicity. Similarly, operators on the Norwegian Continental Shelf are using an environmental impact factor (EIF) to identify potential risks from specific produced-water discharges. The goal is to achieve an EIF known as “zero effects release.” The EIF can also be used to quantify the beneficial effects of different water-treatment methods.

Technical Papers

Coupled 3D Simulator Models Wastewater-Injection-Induced Seismicity

New Technology Reduces High Water Production in Heavy-Oil Field in Oman

Subsea Water-Treatment System Installed in Pilot Test at Ekofisk

Recommended Additional Reading

SPE 194575 A Case Study on Treating Oil Contaminants and Heavy Metal of Produced Water Through Phytoremediation Using Reed-Bed Technology: A Success Story of 15 Years of Operation of Heglig Oil Field of Sudan by Ajay Kumar, GNPOC Sudan, et al.

SPE 191529 Fit-for-Purpose Water Treatment in Permian Shale—Field Data, Laboratory Data, and Comprehensive Overview by John Walsh, CETCO Energy Services, et al.

OMC 2019 1101 Analysis and Comparison of Different Solutions for Produced-Water Management—LCA and Biodiversity Impact Assessment by Martino Pedullà, RINA Consulting, et al.

Rosa Swartwout, SPE, is a Principal Scientist at Baker Hughes. She is the current chair of the SPE Water Lifecycle and Strategy Technical Section and the Fluids Management group of the American Association of Drilling Engineers. Swartwout has over 20 years of experience in topics related to drilling and completion fluids and holds BS and MS degrees in chemistry. Swartwout serves on the JPT Editorial Committee and can be reached at rosa.swartwout@bakerhughes.com.

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