The amount of water needed to frac an individual well varies greatly between and within regions. Frac jobs use between 500 to 100,000 m3 of water per well. 

Water is the safest, most environmentally friendly fluid that can be used during fracking. Canada’s oil and gas industry is continually working to develop new technologies to reduce our fresh water usage and replace it with non-potable sources.

The volume of water required to frac a well depends on several factors, including: the geologic setting, characteristics of the target rock unit (thickness, brittleness, etc.), length of the well, and how many stages. All these variables play a role in how much water will be used to frac that specific well. Note that horizontal wells can extend 2 to 3 kilometres laterally so these have multiple frac stages. 

If these long horizontal wells are in thick (over 300m thick) shale target rock units, then these wells commonly are some of the largest volume fracs, the upper end range around 100,000 m3/well. Much thinner tight sand units might use only about 500 to 2,000 m3/well.

The water volume also varies depending on the type of target unit being fracked, and the fluid type characteristics that are desired. In some units, the majority of the fluid pumped is nitrogen (inert gas making up 78% of the earth’s atmosphere) if that unit is sensitive to water. 

To see exactly how much water was used to frac a well in your region go to FracFocus.ca, Find a Well in Your Area. From here, you can determine many things, including:

  • Well licensee
  • Frac company that did the work
  • Date that frac was completed
  • Number of stages that were pumped
  • List of additives used
  • Vertical depth of the target rock unit

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