Bob Poole, Public & Government Affairs Manager - Santa Maria Energy and Philip Winner, President & CEO- Outrider Energy
"Reusing water is environmentally friendly and if you can do it in a cost competitive way, that’s really just win-win."
What is the importance of reusing produced water, and how can operators go about doing that? The importance is that reuse can impact economics either at the well level or the project level, so it can become a real competitive advantage if you can reduce operating costs and achieve better economics. Almost by definition, the lowest cost commodity producer will win in the long term. You can with stand price fluctuations better, you might be able to develop areas that are not economic for a higher cost operator, or you can submit a more competitive bid in the acquisition market. What I think we need to strive for is a reuse solution that’s not only low cost, but environmentally responsible as well. That’s really the objective to accomplish both. That’s where a lot of the water reuse benefits can come from: reusing water can be environmentally friendly and if you can do it in a cost competitive way, you’ve created a win – win solution.
Do you believe that the regulatory updates across the Rockies States are encouraging or hindering reusing produced water for fracking? Yes, I think produced water reuse can have a positive effect on public perception of fracking as it takes away competition for other water sources. It’s increasingly important for the industry to work together with regulators and the communities in which they operate to fashion some common sense rules that are going to work for both sides.
Pressures towards produced water are mounting, how can operators manage these pressures? I think there’s a tremendous amount of community outreach that can be done. I know the major operators are trying to inform and educate the public about that. There is one thing that needs to be distinguished, and that is the difference between frac water and produced water, because they’re really two very different things. The produced water is interestingly probably the bigger water volume and the longer - term issue. While there is a lot of public interest in fracking and frac water, that’s actually not where the biggest resource is, it’s primarily in the produced water and how the industry is handling that.
Why is it important for you to speak at events like this, and why would you encourage other professionals in the water management industry to attend? It’s important for me on several levels: first of all, my experience has been that most professionals in the industry are responsible environmental stewards, so I think it’s important to provide opportunities such as this to really understand and appreciate what some of the leading companies are doing in order to manage their water resources. Professionals from smaller companies will benefit from seeing what some of the larger companies are doing, seeing what the state of the technology is, getting regulatory updates, and networking. Secondly, there’s never been a more exciting time in the industry. We’re now developing a huge resource base that dramatically strengthens our county’s economic and political base.As exciting as that is, we have to be the best we can be in developing the resource in a responsible way so as an industry, we not just maintain, but strengthen our social license to operate. To me, there’s no higher calling than providing affordable energy in a responsible way.
Water sources are under stress from industries besides the oil and gas industry, do you believe reusing produced water is the solution to water sourcing issues? It is a big part of the solution. In addition, there are opportunities to use reclaimed wastewater for a variety of other uses as well. We have an exciting future ahead with reconditioning, reusing and thereby, recycling water. Exciting new technologies and applications are becoming more and more available every day.
How important is it for the oil & gas industry to look into sharing water resources? Very important. As long as we ensure our needs are satisfied first with the reconditioning of produced water, I think there are real opportunities, with regional variations of course to increase our ability to add to the water resources available for a variety of uses, including agricultural. In addition, we have real opportunities to turn produced water into fresh water employing reverse osmosis and other technologies.