The management of water resources poses considerable challenges to the Pennsylvania Oil and Gas Industry as it begins to expand the development of the Marcellus Shale. Although the play overlies a seemingly water-rich region the sourcing of fresh water for drilling and completions operations are far from straight forward due to regulatory restrictions. Development companies planning to operate in the state must seek to understand an evolving regulatory landscape that is struggling to create a framework specific to shale gas development. The current regulatory status limits conventional methods of surface water withdrawals from streams and rivers and forces industry to search out alternative water sources from groundwater wells, municipalities, private sources and recycled waters. In addition to the challenge of fresh water sourcing, operators are also limited in the options for disposing waste-waters generated during drilling, flowback and production. The current methodology of pre-treatment and discharge via NPDES permit has a finite capacity which is projected to be insufficient in a short time as the level of drilling activity increases. There is very limited potential for underground injection of fluids into permitted disposal wells and virtually no need for weighted brines for well control. Alternative disposal and recycling options which could potentially process the waste-waters into recycled fresh water and concentrated brine or salt cake are being actively studied by individual operating companies and the industry as a whole.

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