Abstract

As a result of recent innovations in horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, shale gas has become an important global energy supply. However, water consumption and disposal issues associated with shale gas development, coupled with industry growth, are creating a need for sophisticated water management strategies. Current shale gas water management strategies fall into three key categories: disposal, re-use, and recycling. Disposal strategies involve sourcing fresh water for hydraulic fracturing and transporting all frac flowback and produced water to an injection well for disposal. Re-use strategies involve primary treatment of frac flowback, so it can be blended with make-up water for re-use as frac fluid. Recycling strategies involve treating the flowback to fresh water quality, either for re-use in hydraulic fracturing or for environmental discharge. This paper will analyze the total life cycle water management costs per frac by comparing the options and costs of water supply; water transportation; cost and options for disposal, re-use, and recycling; impact of water quality on frac chemical costs; the impact of water quality on frac performance and long-term well performance. This paper will also identify other impacts, including safety, public perception, community impact, and environmental liability.

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