The goal is to identify, verify, and compile in a manual current best management practices for produced water from conventional oil and gas operations and to develop a geographic information system (GIS)-based analysis tool to assist in the understanding of watershed issued permits. This will allow management costs to be kept in line with the specific projects and regions, which increases the productive life of wells and increases the ultimate recoverable reserves in the ground.
Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC), Oklahoma City, OK
ALL Consulting, Tulsa, OK
Research has been performed that has led to the development of a guidebook titled A Guide to Practical Management of Produced Water from Onshore Oil and Gas Operations in the United States. This document has been published on the project and the IOGCC’s website. In coordination with ongoing research, field visits have been conducted to oil and gas sites in Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. These visits were conducted in cooperation with State oil and gas agencies, and the findings of the research and site visits have been consolidated by categorizing the data by region, basin, resource, water quality and quantity, management practice, impact/benefit, and operational requirements. Furthermore, a GIS-based analysis tool is being developed to allow users to calculate the impacts of produced water for hydrologic units based on the input of proposed development scenarios. A case study will be used to demonstrate the applicability and functionality of the GIS-based analytical tool.
This project’s research will have widespread benefits for the oil and gas industry, producing States, and the Nation as a whole. Implementing research findings will lower the cost of managing water, thereby encouraging operators to keep marginal wells online and to initiate new exploration and production projects despite marginal economics.
This research also will help regulatory agencies devise new regulations and perhaps new exemptions for existing regulations to make water management easier while still maintaining environmental protection. These reinforcing benefits will have the following outcomes:
If regulators can institute watershed-based and flow-based permits rather than overly conservative NPDES (National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) requirements, environmental protection will be maintained while allowing increased discharge during periods of high surface flow.
To date little had been done to characterize management practices for handling, treating, and disposing of produced water from conventional oil and gas operations throughout the industry nationwide. Water produced from these operations varies greatly in quality and quantity and is often the single largest barrier to the economic viability of wells. The lack of data, coupled with renewed emphasis on domestic oil and gas development, has prompted many experts to speculate that the number of wells drilled over the next 20 years will approach 3 million, or near the number of current wells. This level of exploration and development will undoubtedly draw the attention of the environmental community, focusing their concerns on produced-water management based on perceived potential impacts to fresh-water resources. Therefore, it is imperative that produced-water management practices be performed in a manner that best minimizes environmental impacts.
To date, the following tasks have been accomplished or are expected to be completed as the project progresses:
IOGCC requested a no-cost extension to engage in technology transfer opportunities.
The project was selected under DOE solicitation DE-PS26-04NT15460-02, Produced-Water Management, April 19, 2004.
$175,700 (20% of total)
Other Government Organizations Involved: Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Montana Board of Oil and Gas Conservation, Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, Kansas Corporation Commission (Oil and Gas Conservation Division), Oklahoma Corporation Commission (Oil and Gas Conservation Division).
ALL Consulting, Draft A Guide to Practical Management of Produced Water from Onshore Oil and Gas Operations in the United States, March 2006.