Water is the most common and heavily used fluid in the petroleum industry. It is produced along with oil and gas from nearly every well. Fresh water is used as a base fluid in production, drilling and completion operations. Produced water is primarily handled in three ways: as a base fluid in hydraulic fracturing, for pressure maintenance in secondary or tertiary recovery projects, or for disposal into salt-water injection wells.
Hydraulic fracturing uses more water than any other process in the drilling and completion of unconventional wells. An easy way to think of the need for water is: No water, No fracturing, No oil or gas resource play. This paper's focus is on how Newfield Exploration Company approached the design and installation of an infrastructure system for the procurement, transportation, storage, reuse and disposal of water for hydraulic fracturing and associated operations in its Cana Woodford Shale Play.
Newfield's Cana Woodford Shale Play covers over 275,000 net acres in central Oklahoma running from Elmore City in the southeast to Watonga in the northwest. When Newfield started on its new venture in the Cana Woodford, the existing infrastructure in the area was not capable of supporting its planned drilling and completion program nor the resulting production and water disposal requirements. To accommodate the exploratory drilling and completion plan, Newfield would install discrete water management systems for each well, which would include (1) sourcing water, (2) constructing frac pits, (3) transporting water to the storage pits in sufficient quantity, and (4) transferring water from the storage pits to well location to support the completions.
These one-well water management systems were a necessity for the exploratory drilling program; however, as Newfield shifted to infill drilling and field development, it sought to install a more efficient, fully integrated water management infrastructure that would reduce trucking, make more efficient use of storage space for water, provide broader access to geographically dispersed water resources, and allow for the recycling of produced water as a hydraulic fracturing fluid.
Newfield forged new relationships with landowners as a part of establishing operations in the region. Landowner agreements were required to construct pads, obtain right-of-ways to lay water transport pipelines, and build frac pits and other facilities. Several landowners were instrumental in helping our water management team identify water sources in the Cana Woodford play especially in light of the ongoing drought in Oklahoma.