Water Management Associated with Oil and Gas Development and Production

EM—A look at the complex issue of managing water use associated oil and gas production.

by Dan Mueller

The production of oil and gas also produces water, in some cases in greater volume than the oil or gas itself. As referenced in one of the articles in this issue of EM, recent studies have estimated that nearly 900 billion gallons per year of wastewater from oil and gas production is generated in the United States. That's a lot of water—using a U.S. population of roughly 326 million people, this equates to 7.5 gallons of produced water generated per person per day. Therefore, oil and gas production is as much about water as it is about energy production.

The vast majority of oil and gas wastewater (produced water) is currently being disposed by injection into disposal wells. However a number of issues, including drought, lack of disposal wells, induced seismicity potentially associated with disposal well operations, and competing water demands, are driving the consideration of other means for use or disposal.

A range of topics related to potentially doing something else with this water are presented in the articles that follow. This is a complicated issue with various thoughts and perspectives. A&WMA's core purpose to improve environmental knowledge and decisions by providing a neutral forum for exchanging information makes this is the perfect forum for exploring these varied positions.

This month's featured topic provides excellent reading and a presentation of the different aspects and perspectives of this emerging and complicated topic.

Members can read the full August issue of EM.