Williams and EnCana recycling to reduce the need for fresh water
GRAND JUNCTION – Garfield County’s two leading natural gas producers are recycling millions of barrels of water a year to reduce the need for using fresh water.Williams Production recycles all of the water it produces during drilling and gas production, Dave Cesark, an environmental specialist for the company, said at the Colorado River District’s annual water seminar in Grand Junction Friday.”We take water very seriously at Williams. We do our best to conserve water, to recycle it and to minimize our fresh-water use,” Cesark said.David Grisso, an operations field leader with EnCana Oil & Gas (USA), said the company expects to recycle a total of about 8.5 million barrels of produced water in its Piceance Basin operations this year. Water is injected into a well to fracture it to increase production, then brought back up for fracturing in a different well.”If I can use produced water to ‘frac’ with, I don’t need river water, fresh water,” Grisso said.Interest is growing in Colorado in making productive use of water that comes up from a well as a byproduct of oil or gas. But Cesark said Williams’ wells produce a dry gas that includes only about 3 to 5 barrels of liquids per day, consisting of petroleum condensates and water.The 9 million barrels of water that it produces annually – 378 million gallons – would be enough to irrigate only about 350 acres of alfalfa, he said.Williams is putting the water to another beneficial use by using it for fracturing in lieu of using fresh water, he said.EnCana injects some produced water into deep wells for disposal but hopes to end that practice. Williams does no disposal injections.Grisso said EnCana holds a temporary permit to release treated, produced water into the Colorado River, where it would become a resource for the state, but the company has never done that. It costs about 60 cents a barrel to inject water underground, and would cost more than $2 a barrel to clean it enough to put it into the river, he said.Both companies treat produced water before reusing it. And they are increasingly using pipelines rather than trucks to transport the water to well pads for fracturing. Grisso said that practice has cut truck traffic or in some cases eliminated it altogether.Cesark said one 66-well project it developed included a closed-loop piping system to a treatment center and back that did away with 12,500 truck trips. The company is able to do remote fracturing from more than a mile away from a well, “so we don’t have to transport tanks and water back and forth,” he said.Eliminating the need for on-site fracturing fluid tanks also enables Williams to build smaller well pads, which reduces the surface impact of drilling, he said.Contact Dennis Webb: email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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