Water, like energy, is a precious and finite resource. Water is also a key component of hydraulic fracturing and is used in other oil producing techniques like water flooding and steam injection. Some of the largest U.S. oil and gas companies realize that they must strike a balance between energy demands and precious water resources. As a result, many companies are spending now to save on water later.
Despite slumping energy prices, investments in technologies and projects by oil and gas companies to save and recycle water continue. Finding ways to recycle and use less fresh water has required a lot of investment from some of the biggest U.S. oil and gas companies, but the companies believe their efforts now will save them later on wells they plan to drill in years to come, and ensure they continue to have the water they need.
Nowhere is it more important to strike the balance between energy demand and water conservation than in many drought-prone regions. California, the world's seventh largest economy and the country's number three oil producer, is in the midst of one of its worst droughts on record. As a result, oil and gas companies are trying to change their approach to water.
Some of the methods oil and gas companies are trying include using brackish water instead of fresh water, and using pipelines and various treatment systems to more efficiently move, clean, and reuse the vast quantities of water that flow through their operations. Others have designed filtration systems that make the water fresh enough to be used for irrigation, and some even hope to stop using fresh water completely.
These efforts will likely be helpful in reducing friction with neighboring communities, farmers, and manufactures who also depend on local water. The companies themselves will also benefit, as better water management, combined with recycling, can save hundreds of thousands of dollars per well.
Progress has been made toward using water more efficiently, and industry representatives say they are working to conserve even more.