28 August 2020
PWS launches common water quality guidelines
Adoption of a common water quality guideline could bring about much-needed operational and cost efficiencies for both operators and water midstream companies.
In a webinar held earlier this month, PWS board member and Jade Dragon director Morris Hoagland presented PWS’ draft guidelines for produced water recycling. The ultimate aim of the initiative is to bring down treatment costs and promote further produced water recycling in the Permian Basin, where the default water management solution is disposal through reinjection.
Hoagland estimates that when all water management costs are accounted for, total costs could be as high as $5/bbl or greater, depending on location. Paying that much to source water for hydraulic fracturing and transport, as well as disposal of flowback and produced water, is quite burdensome for operators, especially in low oil price environments such as the one the industry is currently experiencing.
“Often the operators are not necessarily looking at all the costs involved [in water management] because they tend to put their various costs into different silos,” Hoagland said.
As produced water volumes grow over time, total water management costs will continue rising, putting more pressure on the industry. Disposal constraints and increasingly limited freshwater availability also pose costly difficulties for operators.
The benefits of adopting a common spec for treated produced water are many. As Hoagland noted, a common water quality benchmark will allow clean brine to become a commodity. It will also enable water midstream companies to build larger-scale treatment facilities which will result in lower capital and operating costs, and thus lower per-barrel treatment costs.
“Perhaps more importantly, it allows sharing water across midstream pipeline networks. This reduces the requirements for expensive water storage capacity,” Hoagland explained.
Hoagland’s efforts build on the initial groundwork laid by Aaron Horn of XRI Holdings, who at the PWS 2020 Annual Seminar in February presented the idea of using the SpOT Check to establish large-scale water trade in the basin. Expanding on this idea, Hoagland gathered feedback from more than 30 industry experts, including water services providers and producers to provide a comprehensive guideline reached through general consensus.