Most fracking to extract shale gas is happening in water-stressed regions of the US, such as Texas and Colorado, both of which are in the midst of prolonged drought conditions.
Companies are feeling the pressure to cut their freshwater use in these dry areas of the country — and they’re looking to reduce the high cost of hauling millions of barrels of water to oil and gas wells and later to underground disposal wells, Reuters reports.
The news agency says the use of Halliburton’s H2OForward recycling service on ExxonMobil’s XTO Energy wells in Eddy County, N.M., saved $70,000 to $100,000 per well with no loss of production. Meanwhile FTS International says it uses up to 100 percent reclaimed water in some Oklahoma and Texas locations.
Recycled water in fracking is also good business for water technology firms. One portfolio manager told Reuters that companies such as water testing equipment manufacturer Xylem and pump maker Ecolab could see their earnings grow.
Layne Christensen, a provider of water management services, expects its fracking-focused business to generate $200 million in revenue by 2017, Reuters reports. And utility Aqua America has said a water pipeline to supply frack sites will eventually add 10 cents per share to its annual earnings.
Water treatment technology company Aquatech acquired Fluid Recovery Services earlier this year, thus creating a water management network for the Marcellus and Utica shale region. The acquisition expands the Pennsylvania network from three to five central water management facilities located in Franklin, Josephine, Creekside, Rouseville and Tioga, which establishes an end-to-end network for producers in the Marcellus and Utica Shale region, the company says.
Fracking operations should scale up their use of recycled water and non-freshwater resources, and practice better water management planning if shale energy production is to grow as projected, said a Ceres research paper published in May