Shale and tight gas developments are highly water intensive processes with a typical well requiring several million gallons of water to drill and fracture. During gas/condensate production major portion of this water along with contaminants returns back to the surface as flow back water in the first few weeks of operation and remaining amount of water is produced through the life time of the well as produced water. For either re-use or disposal, the water produced from unconventional hydrocarbon wells needs treatment as it may contain residual fracturing fluid chemicals, suspended solids, high salinity, hardness, hydrocarbons which could form emulsions and other constituents. The variability in produced water volume, high salinity and residual polymer among others present various technical challenges in water treatment.
In Shell, an integrated subsurface / completions engineering / surface engineering approach is used to select and mature water treatment technologies and establish best water management practices focused on minimizing safety risks to protect human health & the environment, reducing water footprint and optimizing water-related costs. A brief introduction to the integrated process will be provided and results of recent technology development and testing focused on optimizing water reuse and recycle. This presentation addresses Shell’s current water management solutions for unconventional plays development.