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Conference Talking Permian Basin Water

Posted on July 16, 2019

Water is fundamental in the Permian Basin — not just for drinking, but for its use here in the oil and gas industry, and the challenges that water brings along will be discussed at a conference next month.

Between nine and 15 million barrels of water are produced every day in the Permian Basin, and forecasts indicate that number could rise between 75% and 90% during the next 10 years. At Produced Water Society Permian Basin, industry leaders from across the country will be gathering to discuss issues facing operators, and possible solutions to improve produced water management.

Where water is most readily seen in the oil and gas industry is in the practice of hydraulic fracturing, PWS Secretary Zac Roesch said. This is the act of using water to break through bedrock formations to extract the natural resources within.

“What is somewhat unique about the Permian Basin is there’s already a lot of water in the formations, so a lot of producers are getting back between three and five times the volume of water they put into a well,” Roesch said.

So the primary issue, Roesch said, is what to do with all of that water.

Some producers have been able to keep that water and reuse it for additional operations, and much of the time it winds back up in a saltwater disposal well.

“The dynamics are changing because there’s so much more water moving around,” Roesch said. “There are options now of what to do with it but for the most part for now the most cost-effective thing to do with it is dispose of it. I think a lot of people are hoping we can get into a reuse and recycle model.”

Water is regarded as the most critical issue in day-to-day operations, Roesch said. At the conference, Roesch said there will be many midstream companies discussing their models for dealing with water and where they see the issue heading in the future.

“The Produced Water Society is also very focused on bringing best practices to the industry as well so we’ll have presentations from people about how to treat, dispose of, handle and move water in the best regarded method,” he said.

Gabriel Collins, who researches oil and gas development at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, will be giving a keynote address during the conference, making the case for a ‘hydrovascular’ network in the Permian Basin.

In research published by Collins last month, he predicted that by August 2020, there will be a billion-dollar water transaction in the Permian Basin, and that at least 4 million barrels per day of produced water will need to be handled oil and gas companies.

The event will run from Aug. 7 to Aug. 8 at the Midland Horseshoe Pavilion, 2514 Horseshoe Trail. More information can be found at