Feasibility of Using Alternative Water Sources for Shale Gas Well Completions

Abstract

The study presented in this document investigates alternative sources of water to be used in the last completion phase (commonly known as "fracing") of gas wells in the Barnett Shale play. It focuses on more rural counties (Montague, Jack, Palo Pinto, Parker, Erath, Hood, Somervell, Bosque, and Hill) located to the west of the core area (Denton, Johnson, Tarrant, and Wise Counties) where the Trinity aquifer is thin or absent. Millions of gallons are needed to perform the completion phase before gas wells are put online, and, in the past years, gas operators have mostly used: (1) groundwater from dedicated supply wells tapping the Trinity Aquifer, (2) surface water from large reservoirs and rivers, purchasing it from water-rights owners (private or state agencies such as river authorities), and, to a lesser extent, (3) surface water from private ponds and other water bodies, (4) treated water from municipalities and industrial users, and (5) water recycled from previous fracking operations. As gas production moves away from the core area toward the north, south, and west to access the remainder of the play, gas operators are faced with two challenges: (1) increased water scarcity and (2) measured reluctance to impact domestic and public water supplies.

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