Design in a Time of Uncertainty
By Rives Taylor, Principal, Global Resilience Research Lead
In the oil and gas industry, drilling, completions and production requires and yields significant amounts of water. Sometimes, this water can be recycled/reused. Sometimes it can’t. The Water Challenge (WC) Program was created recognizing that continuous improvement is not only feasible, but also essential for both operational and environmental sustainability. The WC Program was created to provide a mechanism for companies to undertake and document voluntary water conservation efforts through the development and implementation of cost-effective most applicable practices that address environmental issues. A Pilot of the Water Challenge has been initiated in the Permian Basin through a generous grant from The Cynthia and George Mitchell Foundation with the objective to identify improvements that could be made, provide feedback from industry and state regulators on the structure and to begin recruiting participants for the Water Challenge.
The Environmentally Friendly Drilling Systems (EFD) Program, managed by HARC, works with industry, academia, regulators, environmental organizations and other stakeholders to provide unbiased science addressing environmental/societal aspects associated with petroleum drilling and production operations. In mid-2017, the EFD Team began conducting comprehensive literature/case study reviews, meeting with key stakeholders and touring multiple operator sites in the Permian Basin in order to document industry’s water management commitments, most applicable practices (MAPs), successes, challenges and opportunities. To date, numerous presentations have been made on the Pilot at various conferences and workshops for all stakeholders. Copies of these presentations are available upon request.
The WC Program structure supports technical and operative water management strategies aimed to reduce fresh water usage, increase produced water recycling/reuse in operations, research beneficial use of produced water and foster transparent water management reporting. By advancing MAPs and identifying opportunities to continuously improve operational performance, companies demonstrate sustainable water management commitments that can improve products/services for stakeholders and enhance shareholder value. Operators can participate in the WC Program by implementing and transparently reporting water management strategies that the company knows to be most effective/applicable.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ for water management. By recognizing and documenting MAPs, the Program promotes adoption of expanded, voluntary commitments to address water management while offering flexibility so companies can utilize paths that best fit with their capabilities and sustainability/operating priorities. Deliverables from this one year Pilot include a comprehensive list of MAPs detailing methods being successfully utilized in the Permian Basin and a website to share this information with all stakeholders.