Managing water use and giving back to the environment will be the focus of this Distinguished Lecturer talk. The presentation will highlight the challenges encountered, lessons learned, and best practices encountered when companies implement efforts to become better stewards of freshwater resources. Karen will also review specific case studies related to Southwestern Energy’s “Freshwater Neutral” initiative, successfully achieved in 2016 within all operating divisions.
The case study will cover how in early 2013, a small multi-discipline team was assembled and closely evaluated all elements within the operational water life cycle, identifying cost-competitive ways to optimize the company’s freshwater usage. Key components for success required:
- commitment from company leadership and support across all operations;
- setting achievable, operational goals;
- accounting for all water used;
- applying new completion designs and technologies;
- increasing the use of alternative, non-fresh water, and
- supporting research in groundwater protection and water treatment technologies.
The presentation will cover how the focus areas highlighted above dramatically reduced freshwater requirements by up to 30% in some operating areas and saved the operator over $20 million US dollars.
The successful work revealed that another component was still required in order for companies to completely offset the need for their remaining freshwater use. The talk will discuss the importance of investing in conservation projects to improve freshwater resources within basins where operations are occurring. Each project should be selected and sponsored to provide both an environmental benefit as well as an economic benefit to the surrounding communities.
Take away message: Achieving a freshwater neutral status requires improvements in everyday work practices and a change in the mindset of water management across a company. As a result, the practices implemented will allow for the use of alternative water sources whenever economically and operationally feasible, and the conservation projects have added value to local communities.