Updated study of wastewater treatment and disposal in Pennsylvania in 2014

Scientist examining water pollution
Source: DollarPhotoClub

In 2012 the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center commissioned a study on the status of wastewater being produced in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Now, three years later, SGICC is updating the report, not only because of the slowdown in the drilling process across the Commonwealth, but also due to the rapid change the shale industry has made in management techniques for the wastewater from shale gas and NGL extraction.

SGICC hired Wunz Associates, LLC to undertake the study as a follow up to their 2012 effort. The most significant finding in the report is that volumes classified as “produced water” exceeded those classified as “frac fluid” in 2014.

Bill Hall, SGICC Director notes, “This has occurred largely due to the slowdown in drilling and fracturing of wells by the industry and could reverse again in the future when natural gas and NGL prices rebound and drilling picks up again. Additionally, the amount of produced water is likely to decline over time since it is generated in proportion to the amount of gas or NGLs a well is producing, and that tends to drop off fairly rapidly after the initial years of production.”

Hall also stressed that the majority of the wastewater generated as both “produced” and “frac fluid” are recycled by the industry. In fact, the PADEP records indicate that more than 91% of the water is recycled by being used in a future completions project. Recycling is typically done after the water is partially treated to remove solids and other unneeded constituents.

“There may be a point in the future where total frac flowback fluid and produced water volumes do exceed the total volume of water used to fracture wells in the state. But that point has not been reached yet,” noted Hall. “The industry continues to look for innovations in the area of shale wastewater treatment and disposal to address future challenges.”

See the new 2015 report, as well as the 2012 version, on the SGICC website.

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