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News in brief

A roundup of the main developments regarding water in the oil & gas industry for December 1-January 6.


Supermajor ExxonMobil said it would prioritize three key areas for upstream investments over the short-term: asset development in the unconventional Permian Basin and offshore Guyana, as well as targeted exploration offshore Brazil. The company has set its 2021 capital budget at $16-19 billion.

North America

ExxonMobil is sponsoring the New Mexico Produced Water Research Consortium’s research on the beneficial use of produced water outside the oil & gas industry. According to New Mexico State University, the supermajor’s engineers and scientists will also be involved in the consortium’s working groups and contribute to various research projects.

The Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks published its Water Conservation Policy for Upstream Oil and Gas Operations. The new publication replaces the 2006 Water Conservation and Allocation Policy for Oilfield Injection and obligates operators to include water conservation efforts at major operations including hydraulic fracturing and in-situ oil sands developments.

The Alberta Energy Regulator is expected to follow up with a document in early 2021 to guide operators in reducing the use of freshwater sources in favor of alternative supplies such as produced water.

Texas-based oilfield services provider Energy Water Solutions (EWS) received a patent for its vaporization in a box technology, dubbed VOX 4. According to the company, the modular evaporative technology is a cost-effective produced water management solution with an extremely low emissions profile. EWS is offering VOX 4 to operators through a build-own-operate model.

The New Mexico State Land Office announced it will not issue new easements or renew existing ones for companies carrying out commercial sales of freshwater from state trust lands to the oil & gas industry. The policy shift is part of an effort to conserve the state’s freshwater resources and encourage produced water recycling.

Water treatment company Evoqua acquired Ultrapure & Industrial Services’ Houston-based industrial business. The deal augments Evoqua’s capabilities in several sectors – including oil & gas, manufacturing and food & beverage – bringing in Ultrapure’s expertise in areas such as reverse osmosis, deionization, ozonation and UV.


Malaysian national oil company Petronas prequalified Wavefront Technology Solutions’ (WTS) Powerwave product for waterflooding and well stimulation applications. According to WTS, the injection technology improves sweep efficiency in waterflooding operations, resulting in increased oil production and lower water cuts. Powerwave has been proven out in the Middle East, where it has been deployed in operations including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait.

South America

Ecopetrol committed to putting at least $64.3 million towards its Kalé pilot project, the first shale development in Colombia. The first wells are expected to be completed before the end of 2021. Flowback and produced water are likely to be managed via reinjection into disposal wells; however, the contract issued by the National Hydrocarbons Agency also allows for “other methods approved by the competent authority.” The rights to conduct three other unconventional pilots will be granted in an auction early next year.

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