Water Management: Lessons Learned and Considerations for a Shale Play in Argentina

Topics: Shale oil Water treatment and management
Fig. 1: Map of five hydrocarbon-producing basins in Argentina.

Recently, exploration and development of shale plays in Argentina, such as the Vaca Muerta, have begun. To achieve commercial production, this type of reservoir must be stimulated by hydraulic fracturing using large volumes of water. This paper discusses aspects of water logistics necessary during the well-completion phase, fracture-treatment designs applied in Vaca Muerta, and laboratory studies performed on flowback and produced water to help evaluate the potential for water reuse.


Well stimulation using hydraulic fracturing has been used widely for producing oil and gas reservoirs in Argentina since the 1960s. This stimulation technique has been applied in the five hydrocarbon-producing basins shown in Fig. 1 (above), as well as in a variety of formations and types of reservoirs, such as conventional, tight, and, more recently, shale.

The majority of shale exploration and development has been in the Vaca Muerta formation, but work has also been assessed in other formations, such as Los Molles, Cacheuta, D-129, and Agrio. Experience gained related to water management in these shale plays during the completion of more than 40 wells (more than 200 hydraulic fractures) by different operators is presented in the paper. Furthermore, laboratory studies were conducted on treated and untreated flowback water, and assessment of its use as fracturing-fluid water is presented.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper SPE 174118, “Water Management: What We Have Learned and What We Need To Consider for Developing a Shale Play in Argentina,” by J.C. Bonapace, SPE, Halliburton, and F.G. Alric, A. Angeloni, and L. Zangari, Total E&P, prepared for the 2015 SPE Latin American and Caribbean Health, Safety, Environment, and Sustainability Conference, Bogotá, Colombia, 7–8 July. The paper has not been peer reviewed.


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Water Management: Lessons Learned and Considerations for a Shale Play in Argentina

01 December 2015

Volume: 67 | Issue: 12