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Tim Matthews |

How much water is used in the oil and gas market?

Quick quiz: How much water is needed to drill and frack a horizontal well?
a) 25,000 gallons
b) 250,000 gallons
c) 2,500,000 gallons

It may seem crazy but each new well requires over 2.5 million gallons of water for completion. Not only that, besides the water needed for drilling and fracking, industry experts have found that for every one barrel of oil produced, over seven and a half barrels of water are also produced. For the production of one million cubic feet of natural gas, over 260 barrels of water are produced. With this much production, water plays a key role in keeping the well pad running and maintaining an optimized system. 

Produced water can have a combination of materials in it; some from the fracking process chemicals (although these typically account for less than 0.5 percent of the total makeup) and others that are found in the Earth’s crust including greases, salts, etc.

Produced water can be recycled. Some produced water is cleaned up and used in irrigation, dust control and de-icing of the roads but the majority of it is used to continue to increase well efficiency. Here, the produced water is re-injected into the well to maintain pressure and output of the well. This process must be carefully monitored to ensure optimum output and prevent shutdown of hydrocarbon stimulation.

What do you need to monitor your process effectively?

With this much water being produced, there is a high demand for water recycling systems and flow measurements. To ensure that your system runs smoothly, some of the key instruments that you need in your process are magnetic flow meters, level devices and valve positioners. These devices are able to perfectly into any solution needed for water transfer, frack transfer, impaired water transfer and filtration.

Skid manufacturers have developed mobile solutions to measure water at the well site. For this application we recommend magnetic flow meters, particularly the SITRANS Mag 5100W, to monitor the flow rate of clean water where power is available. Battery-powered mag meters, like the Siemens SITRANS Mag 8000, are also beneficial and ideal for frack water impoundments/tanks that provide a solar powered flow measurement. For handling chemical compatibility for produced water and salt water flows, mag meters with a variety of liners similar to the SITRANS Mag 3100 are what you would need to use. 

While magnetic flow meters have a huge presence in the oil and gas industry, level instrumentation is just as important. Level instrumentation, particularly the SITRANS LR250, is ideal for frack tank measurements as it provides accuracy within +/- 3mm, while the SITRANS LG250 is able to provide interface detection and dual outputs, creating an easy solution for monitoring the amount of crude separated from water. These level devices provide a greater degree of control and therefore a greater sense of reliability and efficiency to the user.

With oil prices slowly starting to climb everyone is looking for new ways to create better efficiency and reliability on their wells. What better place to focus on then the biggest product of the US petroleum industry, water.

How much have you focused on water in the oil and gas industry?

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