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Recycled Wastewater Could Cut Cost Of Hydraulic Fracturing

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.

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Andrew Schneider

Andrew Schneider

Politics and Government Reporter

Andrew heads Houston Public Media’s coverage of national, state, and local elections. He also reports on major policy issues before the Texas delegations in the U.S. House and Senate, as well as the Texas governorship, the state legislature, and county and city governments. Before taking up his current post, Andrew...

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