The oil & gas industry has long been facing scrutiny over its consumption of water and how it is sourced. The problem is particularly pressing after the sharp increase in hydraulic fracturing operations in drought-stricken areas like Texas. That is why more and more oil and gas companies are teaming up with companies that recycle water and can clean up waste water from oil fields that can be further used in drilling operations.
According to Jeremy Roberts, yard manager at water recycling company Cobb & Associates, technology allows oil-field water containing salts and dozens of chemical elements to be cleaned and reused over and over again, practically eliminating the need to buy fresh water. Roberts says that estimating how much fresh water is used in operations, as opposed to recycled or brackish water, is nearly impossible because oil and gas companies are required to report the total amount of water used only, not how it is sourced.
Overall, in 2012 companies drilling at the Eagle Ford Shale reported using 14 billion gallons of water. A report released by the Bureau of Economic Geology at the University of Texas estimated that the proportion of non-fresh water used by the industry is just over one-fifth, while the rest comes from fresh water sources.
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The market is wide open for companies that can treat and recycle water, FuelFix reported. Such technology is widely used in Pennsylvania and the Marcellus Shale, so it is only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream in Texas, where water shortage is already a problem.