PBIOS - October 2021 - 125

Water Recycling Strengthens Permian
By Colter Cookson
For every barrel of oil produced in the
Permian Basin, there are at least two barrels
of water. In the Delaware Basin,
some wells lift 10 barrels of water for
every barrel of oil, according to Wood
Mackenzie.
As produced water volumes grow, disposal
wells become harder and more expensive
to permit. At the same time, both
public and private investors increasingly
push the industry to minimize its impacts
on the environment, including freshwater
supplies, while continuing to practice fiscal
restraint and deliver strong returns.
Recycling produced water is one way
for operators to achieve both financial and
environmental goals. According to completion
consultants and water management
experts, this reality has supported
technological innovations that enable operators
to transform more produced water
into effective completion fluids.
" It is becoming easier to justify completing
wells with produced water, " assesses
Dustin Aro, vice president of
operations and co-founder of the consulting
firm Precision Petroleum Solutions.
" The vast majority of unconventional
completions rely on slickwater to stimulate
the reservoir. Chemical providers have
met the challenge of high chloride source
water by developing robust friction reducers
that limit produced water's impact on
pumping rates. This lets us deploy sufficient
horsepower without major changes
in well construction or stage spacing. "
" In West Texas, produced water recycling
can mitigate rising costs to dispose
of produced water and acquire freshwater, "
Aro continues. " The surge in activity
has highlighted water as a major line
item, but operators still need to pump
high volumes because barrels of water
per foot influence well productivity
alongside pounds of proppant per foot.
By easing water sourcing's burden on
completion AFEs and disposal's effect on
lease operating expenses, recycling can
help operators meet production targets
without squeezing margins. "
Reusing produced water can offer attractive
economics even for extremely
small operations, Aro says. As an example,
he cites SPE-204166-MS, a paper he presented
at the Hydraulic Fracturing Technology
Conference that discussed why
and how a Delaware Basin operator recycled
produced water for a five-well program
targeting the Wolfcamp B and C.
" The operator had a great deal with
the midstream company and an on-lease
disposal transfer skid, which is rare for
small operators, so the produced water
disposal costs were about $0.50 a barrel, "
he recalls. " Even so, it was more economic
to build a produced water pit and
complete four wells using 100% produced
water. "
Aro estimates the pit paid for itself
once produced water had been used to
complete 10,000 feet of lateral. For operators
with more expensive disposal
costs, which can reach as high as $3 a
barrel, he says the economics can be
even more compelling.
" When I talk with small operators
about recycling produced water, the pit
construction costs can cause sticker
shock, " he comments. " However, when
we compare the operator's freshwater acquisition
and produced water disposal
costs to the ones for recycling, the pit often
makes sense as long as the operator has
the resources to think beyond 30-60 days. "
Evaluation
To evaluate whether recycling will
Water treatment has become efficient
enough for recycling produced water in
completion fluids to offer attractive returns
even for small projects, Precision
Petroleum Solutions reports. For example,
this treated produced water came from
a five-well program in the Delaware Basin.
work for a specific project, Aro suggests
producers start by tallying how much
produced water their wells generate and
looking at water samples from those
wells to determine the water quality,
which affects treatment costs. " Operators
with multiple producers and multiple
benches should test all of them in case the
water properties differ, " he advises.
The next step is flow loop testing with
friction reducers to verify their compatibility
with the produced water. " This testing
is a great starting point, but we
ultimately discover what works in the
field, " Aro remarks. " For example, in the
Delaware Basin case study I mentioned
earlier, we found out that a basic friction
reducer worked as well as a more expensive
one at our rates and pressures by alternating
FRs from stage to stage. "
In almost every application, Aro recommends
building a produced water pit
rather than sourcing water from a saltwater
disposal line. " With a pit, the operator
can treat the water to the desired quality
before sending to site, " he says. " With a
hot tap, the water quality can shift rapidly
because there are an unknown number of
wells that produce from several benches
flowing into the SWD pipeline. "
The completion crew can try to normalize
the quality by testing the water periodically
and adjusting dosage rates or
the ratio of produced water to freshwater,
but Aro cautions that getting this right
can be tricky. " I have been on sites where
we see pressure spikes in the middle of a
stage from water quality changes, " he
says. " When that happens, we have to ask
ourselves whether the spike came from
the surface or the rock. Water from a pit
eliminates that uncertainty and the water
quality guessing game associated with
on-the-fly treatment. "
Between digging the pit, installing the
liners, putting in an aeration system, and
getting power to the pad, Aro says it can
take 45-90 days from the time a pit is
OCTOBER PBIOS 2021 125

PBIOS - October 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of PBIOS - October 2021

Table Of Contents
PBIOS - October 2021 - Intro
PBIOS - October 2021 - Cover1
PBIOS - October 2021 - Cover2
PBIOS - October 2021 - 3
PBIOS - October 2021 - Table Of Contents
PBIOS - October 2021 - 5
PBIOS - October 2021 - 6
PBIOS - October 2021 - 7
PBIOS - October 2021 - 8
PBIOS - October 2021 - 9
PBIOS - October 2021 - 10
PBIOS - October 2021 - 11
PBIOS - October 2021 - 12
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PBIOS - October 2021 - 14
PBIOS - October 2021 - 15
PBIOS - October 2021 - 16
PBIOS - October 2021 - 17
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18A
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18B
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18C
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18D
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18E
PBIOS - October 2021 - 18F
PBIOS - October 2021 - 19
PBIOS - October 2021 - 20
PBIOS - October 2021 - 21
PBIOS - October 2021 - 22
PBIOS - October 2021 - 23
PBIOS - October 2021 - 24
PBIOS - October 2021 - 25
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PBIOS - October 2021 - 125
PBIOS - October 2021 - 126
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PBIOS - October 2021 - Cover3
PBIOS - October 2021 - Cover4
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