As water conservation becomes an increasingly prevalent issue, both in the oilfield and in other industries, many governments are creating new regulations to control the treatment, disposal, and storage of produced water, as well as the regulations around water sourcing. As often happens with new regulatory requirements, the unintended consequences of the regulations can be sometimes beneficial, and sometimes worse than the original problem they were designed to mitigate. The importance of investigating the effects of regulatory requirements before implementation cannot be overstated.

This paper outlines several examples of the unintended consequences, both positive and negative, of recent regulations designed to improve water conservation. Specifically, we review water storage and treatment challenges set by Australian regulation before the large-scale development of coalbed methane.

In contrast, an overview of the regional rules, diverse water sources, and quality requirements developed for the western US unconventionals boom is provided. Additional insights regarding water use in the Middle East and long-term field development strategies for managing water for stimulation and production are discussed.

Throughout, this paper investigates and compares, through case studies, how the International Standard Organization (ISO) 14001 Environmental Management Standard can be effectively used to provide guidance for appropriate regulations, while maintaining the quality and standards representative of the oil and gas industry.

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