Fracing and Water Supplies
There is no denying that fracing uses a great deal of water. While each job is different, it is estimated that 4.5 million gallons of water per well is typical. The EPA estimates that between 70 and 140 billion barrels were used to stimulate 35,000 wells. This sounds like a great deal of water, but a recent article in “Rigzone” helps put this in perspective.
Based on 2011 statistics, only .3% of U.S. freshwater supplies were used to frac shale wells. Golf courses consumed .5%. Put another way, Texans used 18 times as much water on their lawns as was consumed by fracing in the state, and agriculture needs 243 times as much. Power generation requires water to make steam and accounts for 40% of all freshwater withdrawals in the U.S.
Part of the perception problems is that the vast majority of oil and gas wells that have been drilled since 2011 were in arid or semi-arid areas. When water is scarce, sensitivity to its use is heightened. Also, a drilling rig is a very obvious target for critics.
Fortunately, the oil and gas industry acknowledges concerns with the large amount of water used in fracing and has taken steps to address both the perception and the underlying reality. In Texas, much of the water used in fracing is from deep wells which typically contain water that is too brackish for human consumption or agricultural use. Across the country steps are being taken to conserve water and recycle fracing fluids. In North Louisiana, some drilling companies are buying effluent water from the City of Shreveport and a nearby paper mill to minimize the use of fresh water. This practice is being adopted in South Texas as well.
New water systems and technologies have been developed by Halliburton, FTS Energy, Baker Hughes, Dow Chemical, Origin Oil and others which utilize little to no fresh water in formulating fracing fluids.
To read the article in its entirety, please go to http://www.rigzone.com/news/oil_gas/a/132605/ .