A recent Duke University study that cited a nearly threefold increase in water use in the Permian Basin since 2011 was acknowledged by oil industry groups and then dismissed as a recognition of the obvious.
“If you use water to drill oil wells, and you drill more and bigger oil wells, you will use more water,” declared John Tintera, president of the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers.
While saying he appreciated the effort and resources that went into this and other Duke University studies of hydraulic fracturing, Tintera noted Texas oil production over the same period increased to 1.17 billion barrels (average 3.2 million b/d) in 2016 from 529 million barrels (average 1.4 million b/d) in 2011. In the two years since, Texas oil production has grown to 4.4 million b/d, according to a report on June production from the Energy Information Administration.
Published in August, the Duke study said that water use had increased substantially in all six U.S. shale plays and called 2011 to 2014 the period when volumes of flowback and produced water increased at significantly higher rates (See SPWM, Sept-Oct 2018, pg.28).
Tintera added: “Thanks to an advanced regulatory framework, oilfield water recycling in Texas is active, encouraged and regulated, and an important economic factor in our Texas oil fields. With water and wellbore fluid recycling regulations by rule rather than numerous discrete permits, Texas is the center for innovative and cost-effective water recycling technology.”