Monitoring Water Use for Fracking Operations

Hydraulic Fracturing

The oil and gas industry is finally showing signs of recovery following the long downturn that saw oil prices drop from more than $100 per barrel to less than $40. While there is still a lot of room for improvement, a growing number of analysts and industry experts are optimistic about industry growth in the coming months and years.

Hydraulic FracturingFracking has emerged as an important part of domestic energy production in recent years, and is now the primary stimulation technique used in unconventional oil and gas reservoirs, according to U.S. Geological Survey. In 2000, by comparison, only about 6 percent of hydraulically fractured wells used water-intensive horizontal drilling, but that number had risen to 42 percent by 2010. As production in conventional fields continues to decline, fracking will likely play an ever-more-important role in meeting domestic energy needs.

Water is an essential part of the fracking process, with most wells requiring millions of gallons, depending on the type of rock and whether the well is horizontal or vertical. According to the USGS, typical usage varies from about 1.5 million gallons per well in the North Dakota Bakken Formation up to about 15.8 million gallons per well in the British Columbia Horn River Shale.

Considering the importance of water – and the volume that is required for fracking – it is essential that drilling companies and water suppliers are able to accurately track water usage and flow. As is the case with many things in business, what is not measured cannot be managed. Considering the large volume of water that is required for fracking, even modest gains in efficiency can pay large dividends.

Energy producers are under increasing pressure to limit the potential environmental impact of fracking. This pressure comes from a variety of sources, including government regulations, environmental activism, agricultural producers who are competing for limited water resources, and the rising cost of materials used in fracking. Sand, which is another important material for hydraulic fracturing, has risen in cost considerably during recent years, notes Rock Products. The cost of water for use in fracking is also rising.

Water costs now account for about 14 percent of the overall expense for new wells in the continental U.S., says Verisk Maplecroft. According to some reports, the cost of fracking water has doubled in recent years. In the next decade, the development of new wells in water-stressed regions is expected to double, which will increase water costs further. The cost of water is further exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure in many areas, resulting in water being imported and exported by truck.

Given the importance of water for fracking, the rapidly rising costs of water, and the probable shortages in the future as new wells are developed in water-stressed areas, monitoring water flow and usage will become increasingly important. Fortunately, new technologies are being brought to market that will allow drilling companies and water suppliers to monitor water with more accuracy that has been possible in the past.

TelefloThe DEWCO Teleflo is a cellular based, real-time monitoring and data logging solution. With the DEWCO Teleflo, drilling companies and water suppliers now have accurate, real-time flow rates and totals at their fingertips, with password level protections built in. Water supply businesses are particularly affected by the tightening supply and rising costs of fracking water, and having tools available like the Teleflo system can lead to improved monitoring of water flow and volume, allowing drilling companies and water suppliers to monitor levels and make important make business decisions in real time – as needed, when needed.

DEWCO has been meeting the fluid control needs of businesses throughout Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region for more than four decades. We partner with trusted manufacturers to supply the best products to our customers in the oil and gas industry, as well as many other fields, and we are excited to bring new remote water monitoring solutions to oil and gas industry businesses. Contact us at 303 232-6861 to learn how we can help with remote water monitoring or other fluid control solutions.

Water Management: Controlling, Measuring, Maintaining and More

Industrial Water Treatment

According to National Geographic, even though water covers 70 percent of the Earth, only 2.5 percent of that water is fresh, and only 1 percent of the fresh water is readily accessible.

Meanwhile, the news is filled with threats of water shortages and pollution challenges. All of this brings significant concerns to how we are managing our water.

Effective industrial water management is crucial both in standard everyday applications such as car washes and water cooling, but also in more complex operations such as fracking and even construction projects that can impact local freshwater sources. Here is a brief overview of how companies like yours can more effectively measure, monitor and control this precious resource.

Industrial Water TreatmentManaging Industrial Water

An important part of industrial water management is accurately controlling the water flow during use. Controlling the flow is essential because having a consistent flow of water allows treatment protocols to remain consistent so that wastewater can be efficiently and effectively managed.

Several methods of flow management are available to help with controlling the water. Valves can be set to allow only specified amounts of water through at a time. When using valves, the flow must be recorded on a regular basis to verify consistency and flow volume. The use of a suitable valve is paramount in accurate water flow control.

Maintaining Industrial Water

Industrial water treatment is essential in managing the issues that can occur when utilizing large amounts of water, with the major factors including scaling, microbiological activity, corrosion and residual wastewater byproducts. It is important to manage these issues and isolate them from source waters so that the local waters are not compromised.

Scaling, sometimes known as precipitation fouling, occurs when the temperature and similar factors cause the minuscule dissolved mineral salts which are already in the water to precipitate and then form solid deposits. These deposits can build up in layers on the metal surfaces of these systems and lead to obstructions in piping and reduced flow rates.

Scaling in Water Treatment PipeThe real issue with scaling is that as the scale thickens, energy is wasted due to the heat exchangers becoming less efficient. For industrial projects, this can mean time and money wasted because increased energy is needed to pump water through tighter pipes.

To resolve this issue, you can employ polyphosphates or similar tools that coat the iron and make it difficult for these minerals to build up.

Similar to scaling, corrosion occurs when metal oxidizes and compromises the water treatment equipment. There are several ways to control corrosion, including employing orthophosphates, polyphosphates and blends of each.

It is essential to manage and eliminate any microbes that may thrive within the untreated water, as well. Many diseases have been traced back to unmanaged cooling towers, most infamously including Legionnaires’ disease. These issues must be resolved by some form of biocide before the problem becomes toxic.  Ultraviolet (UV) systems can also provide effective control of biologics.

Residual wastewaters can also be a problem addressed by water treatment. The disposal of these wastewaters from industrial plants, for example, can become a very costly problem and national guidelines have been put in place to avoid having these tainted waters enter the public water supply.

Measuring Water for Use and Treatment

It is as true with water as it is with anything – you can’t manage what you don’t measure. Proper measuring of industrial water is one of the basics of using water as efficiently as possible during these times of water scarcity. A primary solution to the issue is the use of flow meters and transmitters.

Flow meters are having a significant impact on water measurement because they improve data analytics by showing how much water is being pumped into the system and how much water is reaching customers or project sites.

When it comes to water delivery, it is essential to measure non-revenue water or water that is lost before it reaches the customer. These modern meters monitor the flow of that water with incredible accuracy, meaning that companies can keep a close track of what is being used and even use measurement to identify potential leaks or damaged piping from meter to meter.

Cities, for example, often draw their water from many different sources and require a complex system of pumping stations, meaning that the cycles of these networks must be optimized. Flow meters can test the pumps to measure efficiency then compare it to operating specifications, helping guarantee a consistent flow of water throughout a city-scale network.

In the end, the flow meter and similar data logging capabilities are becoming some of the most valuable tools in proper water management as they maximize and streamline revenue generation, cost control, and of course, conservation of this precious resource.

HydrofrackingWater Management and Fracking

Now that fracking has emerged as the massive enterprise that it is, concerns for proper water management are starting to grow in an attempt to lower the risk of negatively impacting the local water table while also fighting rising water costs.

The act of hydrofracking involves drilling deep into the earth and releasing a high-pressure water mixture at rocks below in an attempt to release the fluids inside.

As an industry, fracking consumes more than 1 billion barrels of water on an annual basis and creates half that amount as barrels of wastewater for disposal or treatment, reports Water Online. This is enough to fill 150,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Managing all this is no minor task, as Investopedia notes, and the industry will end up paying north of $6 billion in wastewater management.

Many states have made their concerns known regarding the surpluses of wastewater and corporations are being tasked with reporting how much water was used and/or dumped on a monthly and yearly basis.

Fracking companies must also take precautions as the procedure can potentially cause the release of tainted fracking water or the natural gases into the groundwater, polluting the local water table in the area around the fracking site.

Fracking has the potential to be a great source of gas and oil reserves, but proper water management during the operation is vital to ensuring the long-term viability not only of the procedure, but the local residents and animals that rely on the region’s water.

At DEWCO Pumps, we are a leader in industrial water management technologies, and our suite of high-tech equipment and devices offers companies all the tools necessary to effectively manage, measure and treat their water and wastewater. Our inventory covers measurement tools, flow instrumentation, various valve options and containment tanks. We are water management experts, and we are happy to answer any of your questions. Call DEWCO Pumps today at 303-232-6861 or email us at sales@dewco.com for more information about our products and services.