Activity declines will impact Permian Basin water volumes, management approaches and business strategies differently, depending largely on unique local circumstances.
This month’s interactive chart was taken from a Produced Water Society webinar presented by Laura Capper, founder and CEO of EnergyMakers Advisory Group (EMAG). The chart shows EMAG’s Permian Basin volumetric projections for key water types in 2021.
Capper modeled five scenarios for each of Texas’ Midland and Delaware Basins, as well as for the New Mexico side of the Delaware. The model considers 2019/2020 changes in completions activity and assumes that 2021 activity will remain flat. The projections also assume that 20% of completion water will be derived from recycled produced water in 2020, rising to 30% in 2021.
Source water demand across the Permian Basin is expected to closely track completions activity, which is tied to rig counts. However, the volumetric outlook for other water types varies significantly depending on local conditions in the different sub-plays.
In the Midland Basin, which has the largest base of legacy produced water and disposal capacity in the Permian, reinjected volumes – comprising both water disposed of in saltwater disposal wells (SWDs) and reinjected for enhanced oil recovery – should only decline by as little as 3% if completions activity drops by 20%, and as much as 45% if activity falls by 100%. The Midland Basin is not expected to have any of what Capper refers to as surplus water – that which cannot be managed through local recycling or re-injection and must be transported out of basin for disposal or treated for either discharge or beneficial reuse.
The effects of slowed completions activity will have a more drastic impact on produced water reinjection in the Texas Delaware Basin, where legacy volumes are more modest. If recycling continues at a good pace, surplus water volumes should be minimal, even with the growing disposal constraints the region faces.
Water management dynamics in the New Mexico Delaware Basin are quite different. Because that area experiences higher water-to-oil ratios and has more disposal constraints, even with produced water reinjected at full capacity, Capper expects there to be surplus water unless completions activity drops by around 80%.
For a more comprehensive understanding of Capper’s projections and analysis on how this volumetric outlook is expected to impact water management spending, watch the full webinar here.