In California, Big Oil finds water is its most prized commodity. Isn’t it everywhere in the world, where there is still some?

In California, Big Oil finds water is its most prized commodity by Alex Nussbaum and David Wethe, July 9, 2015,
California’s epic drought is pushing Big Oil to solve a problem it’s struggled with for decades: what to do with the billions of gallons of wastewater that gush out of wells every year. Golden State drillers have pumped much of that liquid back underground into disposal wells. Now, amid a four-year dry spell, more companies are looking to recycle their water or sell it to parched farms as the industry tries to get ahead of environmental lawsuits and new regulations.

The trend could have implications for oil patches across the country. … The state’s 50,000 disposal wells have come under increased scrutiny this year, after regulators said they’d mistakenly [Intentionally, like Encana intentionally frac’d Rosebud’s drinking water aquifers?] allowed companies to inject wastewater near underground drinking supplies. Environmental groups sued the state to stop the practice at 2,500 sites considered most sensitive.

… Sarah Nordin, a spokeswoman at Linn, didn’t return messages seeking comment on the lawsuit. Cam Van Ast, a Chevron spokesman, declined to discuss it. In central California’s San Joaquin Valley, Chevron piped almost 8 billion gallons of treated wastewater to almond and pistachio farmers last year. California Resources Corp., the state’s biggest oil producer, plans to quadruple the water it sells to growers, CEO Todd Stevens told investors at an April conference. “In California, the number one issue we deal with is drought,” Stevens told the New York conference.

An environmental group, Water Defense, questioned earlier this year whether Chevron’s sales to farmers risked industrial chemicals contaminating the food chain. The local water-quality control board ordered the company to conduct tests and Chevron says it has met all the pollution standards in its permit. [Why is the polluter testing their waste water?]

An even bigger headache is what to do with the torrents of naturally occurring “produced water” that come out of wells along with oil and gas. Members of the Western States Petroleum Association, a group of major drillers including Chevron and CRC, will unearth more than 92 billion gallons of wastewater this year, based on a May survey by the association.

… Other companies are using technologies developed to treat petroleum-contaminated land to better cleanse their wastewater, said Barnes, the Bloomberg Intelligence analyst.

… North of Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Energy LLC has won approval for an $8-million pipeline connecting its oilfields to a local sewage treatment plant. The company will use treated effluent from the plant in drilling operations.

[Refer also to:

2014: Germany EPA Frac Report Released: Risks Associated with Fracing are Too High; “So far, no company has been able to present a sustainable waste management concept”

2013: Town of Edson, Alberta, sells treated wastewater for hydraulic fracking

2012: Shell buys control of public water in BC for fracing, permanently removing the water from the hydrogeological cycle

280 Fracing Generated 280 Billion Gallons of Toxic Wastewater in 2012

2012 :AEA: Support to the identification of potential risks for the environment and human health arising from hydrocarbons operations involving hydraulic fracturing in Europe

A proportion (25% to 100%) of the water used in hydraulic fracturing is not recovered, and consequently this water is lost permanently to re-use, which differs from some other water uses in which water can be recovered and processed for re-use.

2011 10 Encana drill waste under Ernst home, Radioactive fish scale shales

Encana downspacing brochures included Fish Shale Shales for Kneehill and Wheatland County areas, including Rosebud

2005 Metals in EnCana Drilling Waste & Frac Fluid at Suffield Alberta

Toxic metals or some radioactivity with your dinner anyone?

How about some carcinogenic benzene and hexavalent chromium? Or if they don’t tickle your fancy, how about some brain damaging toluene?

2011: Encana, Shell and Nexen Discuss Water Sourcing Strategies At Shale Gas Water Management Canada Next Month

2009: A Primer for Understanding Canadian Shale Gas – Energy Briefing Note

….as a technology driven play, the rate of development of shale gas may become limited by the availability of required resources, such as fresh water….

Drilling and hydraulically fracturing wells can be water-intensive procedures….

Frac water often contains chemical additives to help carry the proppant and may become enriched in salts after being injected into shale formations. Therefore, frac water that is recovered during natural gas production must be either treated or disposed of in a safe manner. … Flow-back water is infrequently reused in other fracs because of the potential for corrosion or scaling, where the dissolved salts may precipitate out of the water and clog parts of the well or the formation.

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