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.