This paper presents a case study reviewing the systematic optimization of fluid transport, consumption and waste in large hydraulic fracturing development campaigns. With a focus on reducing consumption, re-thinking transport, and creating value from waste fluid through recycling and reuse, the methodology applied has resulted in very real gains in economic, environmental, social and safety outcomes. The objective of this case study is to provide practical information and guidance for planning, execution and ongoing optimization to not only reduce the footprint of hydraulic fracturing activities but also reduce cost.

By applying the methodology within this paper, the following was achieved over a 90 well development program:

  • Fluid transport via trucking to wellsite virtually eliminated through use of the water production gathering network;

  • Total fluid requirements reduced by 50%;

  • Chemical costs reduced by 35%;

  • Fluid disposal volume via trucking reduced by 95%; and

  • Fluid waste disposal costs reduced by 90%.

While the case study presented is based on a coal bed methane (CBM) development where between 3,000 to 6,000 barrels of clean fluid was required per well, some or all of the methodologies may be applied to shale and conventional markets. With trends in stimulation volumes within the United States shale plays increasing more than threefold in recent years to upwards of 160,000 barrels per well (Dunkel, M. R., 2017), it is the responsibility of the industry to ensure that further growth into Australian shale markets – such as in the Northern Territory – are managed sustainably. For optimal results, fluid logistics cannot be an afterthought in development planning left to the hydraulic fracturing operation, but a key consideration in the overall project strategy.

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