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.