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Water Use for Shale-Gas Production in Texas, U.S.

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journal contribution
posted on 20.03.2012 by Jean-Philippe Nicot, Bridget R. Scanlon
Shale-gas production using hydraulic fracturing of mostly horizontal wells has led to considerable controversy over water-resource and environmental impacts. The study objective was to quantify net water use for shale-gas production using data from Texas, which is the dominant producer of shale gas in the U.S. with a focus on three major plays: the Barnett Shale (∼15 000 wells, mid-2011), Texas-Haynesville Shale (390 wells), and Eagle Ford Shale (1040 wells). Past water use was estimated from well-completion data, and future water use was extrapolated from past water use constrained by shale-gas resources. Cumulative water use in the Barnett totaled 145 Mm3 (2000–mid-2011). Annual water use represents ∼9% of water use in Dallas (population 1.3 million). Water use in younger (2008–mid-2011) plays, although less (6.5 Mm3 Texas-Haynesville, 18 Mm3 Eagle Ford), is increasing rapidly. Water use for shale gas is <1% of statewide water withdrawals; however, local impacts vary with water availability and competing demands. Projections of cumulative net water use during the next 50 years in all shale plays total ∼4350 Mm3, peaking at 145 Mm3 in the mid-2020s and decreasing to 23 Mm3 in 2060. Current freshwater use may shift to brackish water to reduce competition with other users.

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