Recycled Wastewater Could Cut Cost Of Hydraulic Fracturing

Water tanks prepped for a fracking operation. [Wikipedia/Joshua Doubek]
A new study finds that recycling wastewater can help reduce the cost of unconventional oil and gas production. That's the conclusion of economic research firm IHS and Houston consultancy CAP Resources.

Hydraulic fracturing, as the name implies, uses a lot of water. In some Texas counties, oil and gas operations now use up to 30% of the local water supply. IHS finds that, by recycling wastewater, such operations can cut their capital costs by more than 20% per well — and cut their operating costs by nearly 40% per well.

IHS researcher Sarah Fletcher says the approach will be of mixed effectiveness in Texas.

“In the Eagle Ford [Shale] play, the geology there is such that there is not a lot of wastewater produced — it’s a very dry play — and so you won’t be able to get as much wastewater as you need to make up for the frack fluid demand. The Permian [Basin], on the other hand, does generate a lot of produced water, and so we think that recycling is going to be a much more important wastewater strategy and water sourcing strategy for oil and gas operators in the Permian.”

The strategy could address a potential risk to Texas fracking operations. Much of the state is laboring under a multi-year drought.

Bio photo of Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Business Reporter

Andrew Schneider joined KUHF in January 2011, after more than a decade as a print reporter for The Kiplinger Letter...