Produced water web-mapping application interface
Completion of Produced Water Project in Southeast
by Robert Sabie, Jr., Research Assistant
The New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute collaborators recently completed the project titled, “The Feasibility of Utilizing Produced Water to Improve Drinking Water Supply in Southeastern New Mexico.” This project focused on Eddy and Lea Counties and was sponsored by the New Mexico Environment Department’s Drinking Water Bureau. Funding was made available from the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund Set Aside Grant for the purposes of protecting sources of public drinking water supply. Produced water use fits into this framework because it is important to ensure that untreated produced water does not contaminate drinking water supplies and because treated produced water that is substituted for fresh groundwater could potentially extend the life of drinking water sources.
During oil and gas production, produced water is extracted as a byproduct along with oil and gas at a ratio around 7:1 water to oil (Sullivan-Graham, 2015). We aggregated produced water volume data reported to the New Mexico Oil Conservation Division (NM OCD, 2016) and estimated over 776 million barrels (100,000 acre-feet) of water is produced annually from oil and gas wells in Lea and Eddy Counties. While some oil and gas companies are beginning to reuse produced water to offset a portion of the 40,000 to 60,000 barrels of water needed to complete an individual well, the majority of produced water is managed as waste, and thus disposed of in salt-water injection wells.
Several other opportunities for produced water reuse exist; however, decision-makers and stakeholders require additional information before reuse can be implemented outside of the oil and gas industry. The goal and result of this project addresses this information need. The completed work includes three rounds of community and stakeholder meetings in Eddy and Lea Counties that helped identify key questions and knowledge gaps. As a result of this work, several information products are now available. An updated produced water quality database includes an additional 4,000 water quality sample points from oil and gas wells. A geochemical analysis examined the produced water compositional variability by geologic formation in the western half of the Permian Basin. Produced water quality and volume data are now available through an interactive web-map application (figure above).
Regulatory uncertainty was clarified through a review of regulations surrounding produced water in collaboration with the New Mexico Environment Department, Oil Conservation Division, and Office of the State Engineer. Current and emerging treatment technologies are outlined in a section of the final report that lists the technology status, applications, expected quality, removal efficiencies, infrastructure, energy use, chemical demand, and costs. Potential beneficial uses, with a focus on agriculture, are documented in another part of the report that used a decision-support tool to run four scenarios to illustrate the main considerations of produced water reuse. All of this information, which is publically available, will help define specific opportunities for produced water reuse in the future.
To view the produced water database click here.
Click here to view the produced water page that includes individual project reports, web-mapping applications, and community meeting presentations.
Project collaborators included: Martha Cather, Cristobal Gallegos, and Dongyi Chen from New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology; KC Carrol, Pei Xu, Robert Flynn, Binod Chaudhary, Spencer Willman, Guanyu Ma, Kwabena Sarpong, Mengistu Geza, and Aracely Tellez from New Mexico State University; Jeri Sullivan Graham from Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Sam Fernald and Robert Sabie, Jr. from New Mexico Water Resources Research Institute.
NM OCD. 2016. COCWCVolumes.
Sullivan Graham, E.J., A.C. Jakle, and F.D. Martin. 2015. Reuse of oil and gas produced water in southeastern New Mexico: resource assessment, treatment processes, and policy. Water International 40:5-6 809-823.