Production gains through the reuse of produced water in fracturing
The rapid expansion in the use of hydraulic fracturing to unlock unconventional hydrocarbons over the last five years has created significant challenges in water management. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that 3.3 Bbbl of water were used in 2010 for fracturing in North America. Costs associated with the management of water, from sourcing through disposal, have been estimated to comprise as much as 15% of the overall cost of a well.1 Reuse of produced and flowback water to reduce costs has been an area of focus within the industry, but the practice has yet to become standard. While cost-effective technical solutions exist to treat these waters for reuse as an alternative to fresh water, a more fundamental question remains: What is the long-term impact, on production, of switching from the accepted practice of fresh water use to the use of produced water for hydraulic fracturing?
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