The decline in global oil prices has led to a significant drop in hydraulic fracturing activity, but the value of the fracking water management market remains at $1.9 billion, not including water transportation and disposal.
That’s according to a report by Lux Research, which says that water reuse in areas like the Marcellus Shale is still in demand.
Across the United States, the number of fracs fell from about 2,300 in October 2014 to 1,350 in February 2015 as oil and gas companies shifted strategy to focus on their core regions and most economic resources.
But at the same time, operators have turned to new technologies to tighten up their water management strategies and to lower costs. In addition, new regulations in the United States could bring in stricter oversight of water transportation and disposal and lead to more extensive water recycling, Lux Research pointed out.
The Rigzone website, reporting on the research, noted that there are two different water management trends in North America. In the western United States, operators primarily dispose of fracking wastewater rather than treat it. As much as 95 percent of water in the Eagle Ford region goes into disposal wells.
Lux Research found that operators in Texas have access to nearly 1,000 times as many in-state disposal wells as their counterparts in the Marcellus Shale. Nevertheless, operators are aware that they may not always have cheap and available water and are starting to explore treatment technologies and management strategies.
In the Marcellus region in the east, disposal is far more costly and about two-thirds of water used in hydraulic fracturing is treated and reused.
The research report is titled Surviving the Shakeout in Frac Water Treatment Technologies.
“No single technology or water management approach will win in the frac water treatment space,” commented Brent Giles, Lux Research director and one of the authors of the report. “Rather, companies will employ a mixture of water disposal, centralized treatment and onsite treatment using physical, thermal and electrochemical methods.”