Every Drop Counts: Produced Water Balancing in Oil and Gas Operations

It’s no secret that water management plays a critical role in hydraulic fracturing. The demand for water in completion activities has increased dramatically over the years, prompting innovative solutions to use produced water efficiently. At Select Water Solutions, our scale allows us to provide broad insight into reuse programs, particularly those that require systematic water balancing due to their operational complexity.    

Traditionally, a single well does not produce the volumes of water necessary to complete another well. Operators require a network of production wells and a system to gather produced water in a centralized location for use in later completions, ensuring a sustainable supply chain of frac water. At Select, we engineer these sophisticated gathering systems to pool resources and meet the demand for water in completion activities.  

But gathering water is just the beginning.  

The significance of water balancing cannot be overstated, given evolving completion techniques. In the initial stages of operations like the Barnett Shale, shorter lateral lengths needed relatively modest water volumes. However, the landscape has evolved dramatically, with laterals stretching three to four miles and complex completions demanding substantial water resources. Today, a single completion may require upwards of three-quarters of a million barrels of water. 

Once water is gathered, treatment rates vary depending on fluid residence time for settling solids and applying the right chemical technology to treat water to each operator’s precise specifications. After treatment, operators rely on a strategy for on-time water delivery to the next well pad. 

Select’s water balancing networks are fully automated to account for incoming variable flow rates from multiple sources, rate of treatment and capacity, and customer-required draw-down rates. Our solutions are scalable and flexible to accommodate changes in size and scope. While we don’t provide pressure pumping services, we specialize in gathering, storing, treating, and preparing water for hydraulic fracturing. 

Once wells are brought into production, Select stays actively involved. We have the expertise, people, and equipment to handle well testing, flowback, and the management of produced water. This includes treating produced water and redirecting a part of it back into the system for reuse in completions. Any excess water not needed for completion activities is disposed of in our growing network of saltwater disposal wells. 

Water balancing is more than a logistical challenge; it is a cornerstone of responsible and sustainable oil and gas operations. At Select, we are committed to navigating this challenge with precision and innovation, efficiently using water resources while mitigating environmental impact.