Drilling Slowdown – What to Do With Excess Produced Water?

Ever hear of something called a crossover point in oil and gas drilling? No, we hadn’t either. When shale drilling is going full tilt, it uses, and produces, a lot of water. We’ve talked about this before. When you frack and force water down a hole, you get about 20% of it back (the rest dissipates into the rock layer a mile or more below ground). Millions of gallons. You also get, over time, something called “produced water,” or water that already existed in the depths that over time will come to the surface along with the oil and gas you’re extracting. In Pennsylvania most flowback (from fracking) and produced water (or brine) is recycled and reused to drill more holes. But eventually you drill so many holes and get so much brine or produced water out of the ground, you will begin to exceed the level that drillers can re-use it. That is, you “crossover” the point at which you produce more water from previously drilled holes than you can now use. Just last year predictions for the Marcellus were that it would be 5-9 years before crossover of water production. With the radical reduction in drilling in 2016, it may be this year we hit crossover. What do you do with all of that extra wastewater?…

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