Water is a key component to the hydraulic fracturing and completions process, which creates microscopic fissures in dense shale formations allowing the flow of hydrocarbons from the formation and into well bore. A water management plan, including the identification of a proposed water withdrawal source, is required by state environmental regulators for all proposed natural gas wells as part of the permitting process.
Prior to permitting a well, state regulators review the drilling, construction and water management plans and visits the well location. A series of environmental safeguards are required – such as erosion and sedimentation controls, fugitive dust controls, multiple layers of well casing and cement to protect potable water aquifers and water wells – for every natural gas well. Taken together, all of these controls protect surface and ground water resources.
Water used in the completions process is either transported by truck from a designated withdrawal point or conveyed through a water pipeline to a well location. Flow-back water, which is the water that returns to the surface during the hydraulic fracturing process, is managed in accordance with state and federal regulations. In the Appalachian Basin, flow-back is almost entirely recycled and reused to fracture additional wells. A small percentage of this flow-back water is disposed of in EPA-regulated underground injection wells.
MSC member companies have pioneered large-scale water recycling technologies in just the past few years. It’s an accomplishment that we are proud of and one that’s good for both the environment and our industry.