Processing Magazine

Texas oil company develops fracking method using no freshwater

November 25, 2013

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Opponents of hydraulic fracturing claim that one of the most powerful arguments against the technique is its dependence on freshwater. In water-stressed regions, such as Texas and California for example, this causes a serious constraint for the development of the oil and gas industry because production at every single well requires millions of gallons of water.

But Houston-based Apache Corporation seems to have found a way out of the situation for the numerous wells it is drilling in Irion County. Instead of relying on freshwater that is extremely scarce, the company utilizes brackish water from the Santa Rosa aquifer and is recycling water from its own wells, the Huffington Post reported.

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The method is not just helping Texas to deal with drought but also cuts costs and reduces traffic from trucks that would otherwise transport fracking wastewater, with the bonus of saving harmful gas emissions, the company explained. Apache estimates that treating flowback water costs about $0.29 per barrel. By contrast, disposing of water with a third party costs Apache $2.50.

According to Lucian Wray, production manager for Apache's South Permian region, the entire amount of the water used at wells in the area gets recycled, including produced water and flowback water. The company does not dispose of any of the water used in the process of oil and gas extraction, Wray added. Because of the benefits of the process, Apache is now looking for ways to recycle water at its remaining oilfields.