For several years now, regulatory agencies including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), energy associations like the American Petroleum Institute (API), and more recently the Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD) have provided recommendations, regulations, performance standards, and guidelines to improve water management in oil and gas exploration. Yet, to fully appreciate the life cycle costs of fluids used for hydraulic fracturing – including water, one needs to examine the total costs of fluid acquisition, management and disposal. Typically, these costs are divided between various groups within an operator's organization (i.e., completions and production), with budgeting emphasis on acquisition costs during the completions process.

This paper examines the total life cycle costs of hydraulic fracturing fluids, comparing water-based and energized solutions. It evaluates when fracturing fluids energized with carbon dioxide (CO2) or nitrogen (N2) can be used to reduce water volume for more economical hydraulic fracturing. It also evaluates how the selected fracturing fluid can affect productivity. In certain situations, the increased productivity achieved with energized solutions can more than offset lower per-barrel water costs, driving a lower overall unit cost of production. To approach our analysis, we will look at "A Day in the Life of a Barrel of Water" used for hydraulic fracturing.

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