The Canadian oil and natural gas industry is committed to limiting its use of natural resources. This includes investing heavily in methods to find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle the water used in hydraulic fracturing operations.
Water is a key component in the hydraulic fracturing process, as we explained in the May 2013 issue. In fact, water makes up to 99% of the fracturing fluid used to stimulate the production of hydrocarbons from reservoirs.
Once a hydraulic fracturing job is complete, generally 30-70%, and sometimes up to 90%, of the water used is brought back to the surface for treatment and reuse. This water is made up initially of flow back water, which is the hydraulic fracturing fluid recovered from the well later followed by produced water, which is the naturally occurring water found in underground formations, and is produced in conjunction with the hydrocarbons and separated at surface.
Treating flow back water onsite for its reuse is by far the most preferred option for petroleum services sector companies and their clients, E&P companies. Onsite treatment significantly reduces impacts on the environment by reducing traffic, vehicle emissions, noise and road wear associated with transporting water to and from the well site.
There are two general categories of water treatments: conventional and advanced. Conventional methods can include filtration and sedimentation, while advanced methods can use much more complex technologies. More than one kind of treatment can be done, based on the unique composition of each well’s flow back and produced water.
Because of the complexities, services sector companies invest significant R&D time and resources into innovating effective treatment processes and technologies, and to training staff to understand and overcome the challenges of onsite water treatment.
Once the water is treated onsite, it is reused in the operation, injected into a deep injection well, or trucked to disposal well facilities approved by the provincial regulator. (Source: BC Oil and Gas Commission).
Water is precious. It is in every company’s best interests to limit their water use by applying recovery and treatment technologies that allow for reuse of flow back and produced water.