Operators use pipeline to transport and recycle nearby wastewater for fracking operations.
Water management is a critical component of today’s E&P activity. Yet, while operators often have excellent technical and project management support, water management is typically outside of that core focus. That is partly because water management is not usually a revenue generator. Instead, it is often contracted out to service companies.
One such company, Select Energy Services, has constructed and owns and operates a water pipeline system supporting an E&P company’s Haynesville Shale well completions and hydraulic fracturing operations. The 20-km (12-mile) in-ground pipeline in DeSoto Parish, La., has been used to supply the water needed to fracture up to four wells per week since 2010. The pipeline system uses repurposed industrial effluent water rather than freshwater, and already hundreds of wells have been completed using the pipeline while hundreds more are anticipated.
The partnership between Select and the E&P company has resulted in consistently safe and reliable water management for the company’s completions at an affordable all-in, per-barrel price. No safety or environmental incidents have occurred throughout the life of the system.
Starting in late 2000 and continuing into early 2010, shale gas exploration and production activity was at a record high in the Haynesville Shale. During that time severe drought conditions affected activity in the area, and a shortage of water meant E&P demands could not all be met, emphasizing the need for a reliable water management plan.
Two large energy companies partnered with a plan to manage the need—one a dominant independent E&P company in the region that conducted the drilling and exploration and the other a large multinational natural gas exploration company.
The companies discovered a high volume of nonhazardous wastewater was being produced at a facility in nearby DeSoto Parish before it was returned to the Red River under permit. That wastewater flow had the potential to meet the needs of a large portion of the projected fracking operations planned for the area, and the economics of repurposing this water were considerably more attractive than negotiating with other area water sources and land owners.
A contract was agreed upon, and water rights were secured from the industrial facility for reuse in fracking operations. Select was then brought in to oversee construction of a pipeline.
Permits and land rights were acquired, and the in-ground pipeline system was built. The system transports the water from the source into the field. It involves a system of pumps, an in-ground pipeline and delivery stations. Temporary transfer lines are then connected to the delivery stations to transfer the water to the staging pits or specific frack pads. This system is now part of a wholly owned subsidiary of Select called Select Water Reuse LLC. Select also manages the staging pits as well as all associated field services related to moving the water throughout the field.
The system consists of a 20-km buried pipeline built of 24-in. concrete-lined ductile iron with bell-and-spigot connections and air vents spaced along the pipeline. It runs through the Holly Field of the Haynesville Shale and is designed for a flow of 160 bbl/min with a maximum operating pressure of 200 psi. The pipeline transports water from the pump station, which uses three variable-speed drive, 350-hp, 80 bbl/min turbine pumps. There are five delivery points on the pipeline.
While the E&P company is responsible for providing the completions schedule, Select takes over from there, providing all forward planning and logistics of the water program. Additionally, Select mans and operates the pipeline, manages any recurring regulatory compliance requirements, and conducts the transfer from the pipeline delivery point to the staging pits or frack pads. Close communication between the E&P company and Select prevents missteps and has allowed uninterrupted frack jobs.
This has allowed the system to keep pace with as many as 22 active drilling rigs and three to four well completions per week. The wells require multistage completions that consume more than 100,000 bbl per well.
To date, the pipeline has delivered more than 15 MMbbl of water and is designed to supply water on an as-needed basis for future completions. Truck traffic has been significantly reduced, with the equivalent of more than 115,000 truckloads of water traveling through the pipeline since it was put into service. Additionally, that 15 MMbbl of industrial wastewater has been reused rather than being sent to the Red River.
The repurposing of this industrial wastewater was an innovative concept. While nonhazardous and permitted for surface discharge, the industrial water was still distinct from typical well or surface water. Accordingly, frack and production behavior has been continually monitored to determine if there have been any detrimental effects on operations. None have been observed.
The wells that have been fracked using the system’s water have shown no signs of souring, have had good initial production and are following normal decline curves. Scaling tendency also was monitored, and the wells completed with this source water are showing less scaling behavior than those completed with other local source waters, which is why this water will continue to be used for as long as it is accessible.
The system has provided the E&P company with not only a reliable and efficient source of water but also with a consistent all-in cost per barrel of water across the life of the drilling program. It has eliminated the high variability of sourcing costs from well to well that would have otherwise resulted in such a high-drought environment.
Source: E&P Magazine August 2014 Issue
Authors: Clay Maugans, Dave Henley, Chris George, Select Energy Services