Ben Franklin SGICC updates study on shale gas wastewater treatment, disposal

Three years after commissioning a study in 2012 on the status of wastewater being produced in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center is updating the report due to a variety of factors.

STATE COLLEGE, PA, Aug. 26, 2015 -- Three years after commissioning a study in 2012 on the status of wastewater being produced in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, the Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center (SGICC) is updating the report due to a slowdown of drilling across the Commonwealth in addition to a rapid change in management techniques for wastewater from shale gas and NGL extraction.

SGICC hired Wunz Associates LLC to undertake the study as a follow up to its 2012 effort. The most significant finding in the report is that volumes classified as "produced water" exceeded those classified as "frac fluid" in 2014. See the new 2015 report, as well as the 2012 version, on the SGICC website here.

"This has occurred largely due to the slowdown in drilling and fracturing of wells by the industry and could reverse again in the future when natural gas and NGL prices rebound and drilling picks up again, said Bill Hall, SGICC director. "Additionally, the amount of produced water is likely to decline over time since it is generated in proportion to the amount of gas or NGLs a well is producing, and that tends to drop off fairly rapidly after the initial years of production."

Hall also stressed that the majority of the wastewater generated as both "produced" and "frac fluid" are recycled by the industry. In fact, the PADEP records indicate that more than 91 percent of the water is recycled by being used in a future completions project. Recycling is typically done after the water is partially treated to remove solids and other unneeded constituents.

"There may be a point in the future where total frac flowback fluid and produced water volumes do exceed the total volume of water used to fracture wells in the state, but that point has not been reached yet," Hall added. "The industry continues to look for innovations in the area of shale wastewater treatment and disposal to address future challenges."

See also:

"Editor's Letter: A Busy Year for the Center for Sustainable Shale Development"

"CSSD expands performance standard to address treatment of shale wastewater"

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