MIDLAND -- Friday's wet conditions have been a welcome site for the Permian Basin. Unfortunately, the drought is so severe that water supplies are running out. It's a growing concern, not only for Texas residents, but also for the oil and gas industry. And it's forcing local operators to make some big changes.
Using reclaimed water is a growing trend in the oilfield , but it could soon be the only option. As concerns continue to grow, midland college's petroleum professional development center hosted a water symposium to help educate our local industry.
"We're trying to be proactive about looking at the situation, the challenges, the problems and then come up with the best proactices and new technology," says Hoxie Smith, PPDC director.
While hydraulic fracturing is the key to producing oil and gas here in the Basin, the key to hydraulic fracturing is water.
"It's very important. It's kind of the main media, if you will, in the frac process. It's what is fracturing the rock and carrying the propent that we need to carry into that formation," says Brian Schmitt, Devon Energy. This allows the oil and gas to flow to the surface.
"In most all the wells we're drilling right now, we're doing hydraulic fracturing. Some of them are more than five or ten stages, so it takes a lot of water. On average, a couple million gallons per frac job," says Smith.
Devon Energy is one of many companies searching for a solution. Schmitt says, "We're looking at technology that's available that would allow us to use 100 percent produced water. It's a very poor quality of water that we have an abundance of. We're looking at ways we can recycle that and use it in our own current operations."
While some are looking at their options, others have been working to develop a good solution. Bob Highley, who works for Water Cleaning Services, is one of them. "It's the responsible thing to do. We want to make it economical for the oil and gas industry. But more than that, we want to be good citizens."
Smith stresses, "If we can get on top of these water issues, talk about it, see what technologies are available, put a lot of good minds to work, which they are, then we can solve the problems and hopefully stretch our water resources a long way and maybe even increase our water resources."