ConocoPhillips is committed to creating a responsible water management plan in developing assets in the Delaware Basin of West Texas. Sourcing water for the large multi-frac stimulations in West Texas is a well-known constraint on oil and gas development activities in the area. Additionally, large volumes of produced water have traditionally required disposal in injection wells. Rather than viewing these constraints only as challenges, the Permian Unconventional water management team realizes the tremendous and unique opportunity to address both issues by using treated produced water for reuse in hydraulic fracturing operations. With this perspective, water management strategy development has become a truly collaborative and integrative process that addresses the full life-cycle of water. To reduce implementation risks and improve economics in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, the Permian Unconventional Asset plans to initiate full field produced water reuse early in appraisal and development of the project.
In 2014, ConocoPhillips executed several produced water reuse pilots in their unconventional assets, including a multi-well reuse program in the Delaware Basin. Produced water reuse for hydraulic fracturing is recognized as one technology that could simultaneously address both the completion water source shortage and the disposal of large produced water volumes. Strong collaboration led to success in these projects, and they were designed and executed through a significant team effort made by completion engineers, technologists, the asset development team, and operations team members. However, these pilot projects were not without challenges. Equipment configuration on location and produced water storage and transfer logistics were addressed through collaboration of completion and production teams and treatment and pumping services vendors. As a result of the success of these pilot projects, produced water reuse implementation is projected to begin in 2015 in ConocoPhillips’ Delaware Unconventional Project.
Developing full field water management infrastructure plans will be a challenge for the Permian Unconventional water management team. In developing a holistic water management strategy, addressing the full life-cycle of water creates synergies and efficiencies that could not be realized utilizing an isolated approach to addressing the needs of functional teams. Addressing all aspects of water source, transfer, storage, reuse, and disposal within a full field development infrastructure plan requires continuous communication and integration of asset development strategy, completion technology advances, produced water forecasting, assessment of third party offerings, economic evaluation, and engagement with internal and external stakeholders. With these communication and collaboration pathways in place, the Permian Unconventional water management strategy will continue to evolve to ensure successful execution of Delaware Basin Unconventional Asset development. Although the water management strategy and challenges will be unique to every asset and produced water reuse may not be the appropriate solution, these lessons learned can be applied in other ConocoPhillips assets where technically feasible and economically justifiable.