Great progress has been made over the last 10 years to make produced water useable within the oil and gas industry. Drivers have included expanded drilling in the Marcellus, with concurrent shortages of disposal capacity and increased discharge limitations. In Oklahoma, seismicity is related to certain disposal locations; in New Mexico there is concern about overpressure in disposal zones and water scarcity for drilling and hydraulic fracturing; the same issues exist in Texas. What was once ridiculed is now commonplace.
The GWPC has taken on the question of outside use (reuse) as a part of a comprehensive report expected to be completed in 2019. Themes include evaluation of the chemical composition of produced water and flowback water; discussion of documented and potential uses; regulatory frameworks (and lack thereof); and potential risks and risk abatement.
In New Mexico, we undertook an evaluation of several factors that could improve the likelihood of reuse (2016). We continue to evaluate these factors and I will discuss progress (and gaps) in the system. Factors include a closer examination of ownership; conversion of oil and gas wells to water wells; evaluations of energy use for treatment vs transportation; and a closer examination of real documented uses of produced water and their pertinence in high-salinity produced water regions like the Permian Basin.

Primary Author/Conference Presenter:
EJ Sullivan Graham
Research Professor
University of New Mexico, Los Alamos, NM, USA

Katie Zemlick, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM