Industrial, Environment, North America, Oil and Gas, Sustainability, United States, Water, Water Reuse
Oil and Gas + Water
Rethinking Water Use in the Eagle Ford Shale
Shale oil and gas development continues to surge in the Texas Eagle Ford shale play, placing substantial demands for drilling and hydraulic fracturing water on the already drought-stressed water supply. Discovering how critical water management is to sustainable hydrocarbon development, operators like Marathon Oil are adopting integrated strategies to more cost-effectively and responsibly manage their water.
Since 2011, CDM Smith has been supporting Marathon Oil with the development and implementation of an integrated water management strategy that considers all phases of shale oil development while minimizing impacts to the surrounding environment, reducing operating costs and providing a long-term sustainable approach to shale oil development.
Upon entering the Eagle Ford, Marathon acquired existing infrastructure and CDM Smith helped assess structural conditions, identify compliance issues and make necessary improvements. This included reconstructing and permitting double-lined impoundments to meet Railroad Commission H-11 permit requirements, registering and permitting existing and new water wells with regulatory agencies, and developing a program to plug or recomplete these wells in alternate zones to be compliant.
In evaluating potential water sources, CDM Smith recommended using brackish water for hydraulic fracturing rather than deplete an already strained groundwater supply. We also helped Marathon annually save millions of dollars in long-term operating costs by identifying opportunities to construct infrastructure on company–owned property to avoid paying landowners a per-barrel-fee for accessing, storing and disposing of water.
Additionally, CDM Smith is developing a centralized produced water collection, treatment and disposal facility to allow water to be economically gathered, transported by permanent pipeline, treated for reuse for future well completions or disposed in an onsite injection well. This facility was designed using a series of modular units that can be added to or removed as drilling activities fluctuate over time. This will significantly reduce truck traffic and transportation costs as water will no longer need to be trucked to and from the facility.