Fit-for-Purpose Treatment of Produced Water for Hydraulic Fracturing in the Permian Basin

Topics: Hydraulic fracturing Water treatment and management
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Sourcing water for large multifracture stimulations in west Texas is a well-known constraint on oil and gas activities in the area. A 6-month pilot operation demonstrated that produced-water reuse is technically feasible and can be a cost-effective solution. A fit-for-purpose treatment scheme was created to remove free oil, suspended solids, hydrogen sulfide, and iron and to render microorganisms inactive. The technical approach developed allowed for the use of salty produced water for completion activities using a new type of friction reducer.


The oil and gas industry has identified water management as one of the top challenges for energy extraction from unconventional resources. In the Permian Basin, surface water and groundwater resources are scarce and large multifracture stimulations regularly require more than 100,000 bbl of water per well. The Texas Railroad Commission also employs a geologist to assess seismicity at water-disposal facilities. Because of these challenges, many operators in the Permian Basin have begun to investigate and implement produced-water reuse.

Produced-water-reuse initiatives executed in early 2014 paved the way for full-field produced-water-reuse implementation. The water-­management team identified that produced-­water reuse could significantly reduce effects to the limited water resources in the Permian Basin and help achieve sustainable-­development objectives for the company. Several wells were identified as suitable candidates for the pilot because they were designed to be stimulated with a slickwater/crosslink base fluid. Additionally, these new wells were being developed in the proximity of existing producing wells, so the produced water from the existing wells can be treated easily and used to complete the new wells. The team selected multiple wells from conventional and unconventional assets to qualify water-treatment and stimulation chemistry technologies for produced-water reuse.

This article, written by Special Publications Editor Adam Wilson, contains highlights of paper IPTC 18340, “Fit-for-Purpose Treatment of Produced Water for Hydraulic Fracturing—A Permian Basin Experience,” by Ramesh Sharma, SPE, Kristie McLin, SPE, Kevin Bjornen, SPE, Austin Shields, SPE, Zakir Hirani, and Samer Adham, SPE, ConocoPhillips, prepared for the 2015 International Petroleum Technology Conference, Doha, Qatar, 7–9 December. The paper has not been peer reviewed. Copyright 2015 International Petroleum Technology Conference. Reproduced by permission.
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Fit-for-Purpose Treatment of Produced Water for Hydraulic Fracturing in the Permian Basin

14 November 2016

Volume: 68 | Issue: 12