Amidst what the National Drought Mitigation Center has classified as abnormal to severe drought conditions, operators in Texas’ Eagle Ford Shale formation are taking steps to increase their ability to recycle wastewater generated during hydraulic fracturing operations. Bruce Bullock, director of the Maguire Energy Institute at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, estimates that within five years Eagle Ford operators will be able to recycle half of the wastewater generated during the fracking process. Current estimates place the wastewater recycling rate at 30 percent, up from just 1 percent five years ago. “Water is becoming a precious resource,” says Bullock. “As it does, it will become more and more economical for companies to recycle.”
In early May, Austin-based oilfield services provider Pinnergy Ltd. and Austin-based water-recycling company Shalewater Solutions launched a joint venture to provide water-management services to operators in U.S. shale plays, particularly in the Eagle Ford.
The Pinnergy-Shalewater joint venture follows on the heels of Nuverra Environmental Solutions’ announcement that it was purchasing 180 acres in South Texas to develop a facility to collect, treat and recycle liquid and solid waste from Eagle Ford wells. Some companies, including Houston-based Energy Water Solutions, have sought to address the wastewater issue by deploying a squadron of mobile wastewater recycling units to Eagle Ford well sites.
“The oil and gas industry is really going to continue to move the meter on water recycling,” says Bullock. “It’s just a question of how fast they do it.”
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