Abstract

Demands for fresh water in unconventional reservoir developments are often quite high due to the fact that a majority of these low permeability formations require multiple, high volume hydraulic fracturing treatments in each well to achieve economically viable production rates. Water requirements in excess of 1 million gallons (3,700 m 3) per well are common for fracturing shale and tight sandstone formations. As the development of unconventional plays expands in both traditional geographical areas and now into new areas, the oil and gas industry must continue to develop and implement methods to minimize fresh water use in our operations.

Recent developments in water treatment technologies to allow for cleaning and reuse of water after it is produced from a fracture stimulated well is one example of how the industry is responding to this water management challenge. In fact, there are many techniques available to the industry today, some newer than others, for conserving fresh water during fracturing operations. These techniques involve a combination of chemical, procedural, and logistical solutions including 1) the use of non-aqueous liquids such as CO 2 in the fracturing fluid to reduce water requirements and assist with well cleanup, 2) rapid "turnaround" and flowback of stimulation fluids after the treatment to increase water recovery for reuse, and 3) centralized fracturing locations, or "pad fracs", to consolidate and more efficiently handle water storage and treatment facilities which are required for multi-well fracturing operations. This paper will provide an overview of these, and several other methods to reduce water requirements in unconventional reservoir fracturing operations. Case histories will be included to demonstrate how many of these methods have already been successfully applied in the industry.

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