El Capitan Source Water System
- R.M. Brackbill (Shell Oil Co.) | J.C. Gaines (Shell Pipe Line Corp.)
- Document ID
- Society of Petroleum Engineers
- Journal of Petroleum Technology
- Publication Date
- December 1964
- Document Type
- Journal Paper
- 1,351 - 1,356
- 1964. Original copyright American Institute of Mining, Metallurgical, and Petroleum Engineers, Inc. Copyright has expired.
- 1.6 Drilling Operations, 4.2 Pipelines, Flowlines and Risers, 2 Well Completion, 1.14 Casing and Cementing, 4.2.3 Materials and Corrosion, 5.4.1 Waterflooding, 6.5.2 Water use, produced water discharge and disposal
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The talent of pipeline and production engineers can be coordinated to create opportunities for diversified investments. This has been demonstrated by the efforts of Shell Oil Co. and Shell Pipe Line through the construction of El Capitan source water system, which serves many Permian Basin secondary recovery injection programs. The project was conceived during 1960 after the need for a large water supply was recognized. A study of local water-bearing formations suggested that these sources might be inadequate to serve projected secondary recovery programs and still provide sufficient water for residential, farming and industrial requirements. The Capitan reef complex was selected for the supply because the extensive aquifer yields brackish sulfide water suitable for injection. The initial project when completed will require a capital expenditure of an estimated $10 million. It will be capable of delivering some 2.8 billion bbl of water at a rate of 600,000 B/D from 18 wells approximately 5,000 ft deep. The water will be pumped through some 135 miles of line ranging in size downward from 36 in. at the 5,000-hp pump station. Additional capacity up to 1,000,000 B/D can be obtained with only additional source wells and pumps being required. The water will be supplied through a closed system free of air to 28 terminals, each with meters for custody transfer. The wells and pump station are equipped with gas engines and the necessary auxiliary equipment to permit automated operation. While nearly four years have been required from inception to delivery, less than a year was required for design, development and construction. The greatest time and effort were required for contract negotiations for water rights, for right of way, and with the water purchasers.
The advent of expanding secondary recovery operations, together with the growing demand for water utilized in the industrial expansion and agriculture in Ector County, led to Shell's investigation of additional water sources as an allied investment opportunity. Allied opportunities might be differentiated from diversification in that it is management's desire to find additional investment programs through further utilization of available talent and experience. A review of local water sources for Shell's Ector County water injection operations during 1960 indicated that the available sources might prove inadequate in many areas if they were developed on a unilateral lease basis. It appeared that fresh water sources would have to be exploited beyond the limits of some of the oil fields to assure an adequate water supply. Since other operators undoubtedly experienced similar problems, it presented an excellent opportunity for a water supply service. Two alternate water sources given consideration were the Capitan reef complex in Winkler County, a prolific aquifer which had yielded several billion barrels of brackish sulfide water with little or no drawdown, and the Ogalalla formation in Gaines County, a shallow. fresh aquifer. Further investigations revealed that one major oil producer had already laid a water system from the Capitan reef to supply its Ector and Crane counties field injection requirements, that another operator had purchased water rights with plans to bring Capitan reef water to its projects in Ector County, and that operators of other Ector County projects had purchased the Odessa city excess water capacity and the Odessa butadiene plant waste water. Several oil producers had substantial operations in Ector County, while Shell's interests were dispersed with its major operations in the TXL field area, where water requirements were neither immediate nor relatively large. It appeared certain that Shell operations would be served either incidental to the above systems or through local water development. Consequently, a water source service was not actively pursued. Through contact in engineering committee work in late 1961, Shell was advised that at least one of the other operators with water rights could not construct a pipeline to deliver water from the Winkler County reef into Ector County. The reason given was that a group of ranchers controlled sufficient lands between the water source and the Ector County projects and that they had made exhorbitant demands for water transmission rights across those lands.
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