Minimizing Impacts of Well Production and Water Management

Technologies that can minimize the environmental impacts of well production and water management.

Reuse Flow-Back Water from a Hydraulic Fracturing (Frac) Job

Flow-back water comes out of a well at the completion of a frac job and is typically collected in frac tanks. One operator typically attempts to reuse this water for subsequent frac jobs; however, this becomes more difficult as the salts and other contaminants build up in the water with each reuse. Typically, the flow-back water can be reused 3 to 4 times, but in some situations, it can be reused as many as 8 times.

One barrier to reusing flow-back water is having sufficient volume available when the next frac job is scheduled. Although much of the frac water flows back out of a well immediately following the frac job, a significant volume exits the well at a slower rate over an extended period of time and is not necessarily available when needed.

Develop Water Injection Wells within the Fayetteville Shale Region

After the initial large flow of flow-back water, the remaining water that exits the well at a slower rate is separated from the natural gas and stored in onsite water tanks. Previously, this water was collected by vacuum trucks and hauled to commercial disposal wells far from the producing areas. This practice involved many road-miles of hauling water with associated fuel costs and air emissions.

As the Fayetteville Shale Play is developed more aggressively, operators are installing their own water injection wells located within the active production areas. In those areas, produced water can either be piped from production sites to the injection wells or can be trucked much shorter distances.

Water Storage Tanks

Water collection and storage tanks should be surrounded by containment dikes or other structures that can protect against spills and leaks from the tanks. If the tanks have open tops, the tops should be covered with netting to prevent birds and flying mammals from landing in the tanks.

Temporal and Spatial Offsets for Threatened and Endangered Species: Unlike most of the previous steps that involve short-term and often intensive activity, production is a steady, long-term activity. If well locations have been judiciously chosen to protect threatened and endangered species, ongoing production activities should not have any adverse effects on those species.

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Minimizing Environmental Impacts

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