Hydraulic Fracturing Water Consumption and Disposal: A look back at the Barnett Shale

The team at UT’s Bureau of Economic Geology (http://www.beg.utexas.edu/) recently released a new report on water usage and disposal in the Barnett Shale. To date, the Barnett has more than 17,000 wells completed according to the Texas RRC. Barnett Shale Well Count 1993-2013.pdf As an earlier play, the Barnett gives us a better look at the trajectory of water use and disposal volumes. The new report has been accepted for publication by the Environmental Science and Technology Journal. http://pubs.acs.org/toc/esthag/0/ja Some of the notable elements of the report are: 1) that 92% of all water used is consumed (lost); 2) if you look at county level usage, water amounts matter a lot more than talking about it on a statewide percentage basis; 3) one county (Johnson County just south of Fort Worth received far more deep well disposal fluids than anywhere else; and 4) surprisingly, overall disposal volumes are greater than the amounts used to fracture, in other words more fluid comes back up than went down.

The report contains a number of charts showing the concentration of water withdrawals in locations with preferential geology and production. (P. S21) The overall annual groundwater withdrawal is shown at P S26. Interestingly, this report shows the locations and volumes of disposed fluid waste graphically, which give you a better idea of the sizeable volumes involved. This area of Texas is, relatively speaking a water secure area and these are very large volumes. Viewing it in a graphic form is helpful as are the map based identification of disposal volumes. It depicts the cycle graphically for a large area of North Texas. The final chart identifies an almost precise correlation in the trade of water for gas.

Nicot-et-al_Barnett Shale Water Use_ES&T-2014

Nicot-et-al_Barnett Shale Water Use_ES&T-2014-Supporting Information