Abstract

Water is used as a resource for the drilling of oil and gas wells, drilling camps, secondary recovery methods (water and steam flooding), and permanent facilities such as compressor stations and batteries. Traditionally, water has been hauled, pumped from surface water bodies, or pumped from wells drilled by a water well contractor. Just as the oil industry uses professionals for the location of drilling sites using tools such as mapping, surface and borehole geophysics, aerial photography, and satellite imagery, so does the hydrogeologist/ groundwater engineer. In addition, groundwater supplies are evaluated by the hydrogeologist/groundwater engineer for yield and longevity as would be the case in a completed oil or gas well. Also as in petroleum exploration, there are Governmental rules and regulations to contend with in groundwater exploration and development. Economic considerations play a major role in deciding upon the use of groundwater as a source from the point of risk, capital, and maintenance costs. This paper provides an overview of the decision making processes employed to minimize the risk associated with groundwater development, and the methodologies employed to maximize the success of constructing a low cost, minimal maintenance, and dependable groundwater supply.

Introduction

Water supply in the oil industry is a high priority for a number of applications from the start of exploration through to enhanced recovery, as well as requirements for potable supplies in camps and permanent facilities. However, it is quite common in the oil industry to plan for exploration drilling, and development of ancillary facilities without any consideration for the water supply. Water supply consideration usually occurs when it becomes apparent that there is no water. The first thought that usually comes into mind is to "take some water out of the creek". This reaction at first seems reasonable as one can actually "see" the water. If there is no surface water to be "seen", then it is quite common to call up a water hauler. In some cases, a driller may be called upon to dig a water well, perhaps even a water well driller may be contacted. In many instances, the loss or interruption of a water supply can shut down a very expensive operation. For this reason, a low cost, minimal maintenance, and dependable water supply is required. This paper will detail the methodology and benefits to develop such a water supply utilizing groundwater.

In the past, a relative surplus of under-developed surface and groundwater sources in Western Canada saved many projects from floundering due to lack of water. The future may not be so kind. A recent study by the National Energy Board (Bower and Drummond, 1997) indicted there may be as many as 246 potential new waterflood projects in light oil pools, 156 projects in heavy oil pools, and 48 potential steam injection projects in the Western Canada Sedimentary Basin, representing over 200 million cubic meters of oil. This will conservatively translate into a future incremental demand on the Western Canada industrial water budget of in excess of 200 million cubic meters.

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