Water is the most common and most heavily used fluid in the petroleum industry. It is also the most heavily produced, at an average of four barrels of water for every barrel of oil. And, it poses numerous well development challenges for operators, particularly those developing unconventional shale resources. Effectively managing water is rapidly becoming the leading challenge in both conventional and unconventional drilling and completion operations. Project economics and stringent regulations are incentivizing operators who require large volumes of water for their fracing operations to look increasingly at reusing the produced water.

Today, we are enabling and advancing frac water reuse through mechanical and chemical treatment techniques, automation, and the performance of new fracturing-chemical systems that accept high levels of chloride and other chemical concentrations. These technological improvements, combined with careful planning and best practices, have opened the way for economically viable and environmentally friendly techniques for reusing frac water at a time when the cost of fresh water is increasing and its availability is declining.

Planning is crucial to ensuring that water gathering and treatment will reduce transportation, acquisition and disposal costs while maintaining the water resources the operator needs to successfully complete projects in an environmentally safe manner. Centralized water gathering, storage and treatment should be an integral part of field development strategy. Project economics dictate that water sources be placed as close as possible within a given operating area.

Service Integration and automation allows water management systems to work in unison to their fullest advantage. This is definitely the case in shale play water management. The most significant current developments in fluid transfer relate to economies realized through automation. The same is true for fluid treatment, storage, and distribution and processing. Automated pump and valve systems offer cellular-based communication, pressure limit controls, remote monitoring, real-time data access, and data logging to verify results. Lower fuel and labor costs, and demonstrably higher overall efficiency, have positioned automated solutions as a new standard for water management operations. Several case histories demonstrate the combined cost savings and environmental benefits that were achieved on produced water recycling projects where service integration and automation technologies were employed.

Primary Author/Conference Presenter:
Dean Fanguy
Director of Business Development
TETRA Technologies, Inc.
The Woodlands, TX, USA

website: www.tetratech.com