Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Climate Change hits Drillers (and others) with Water Woes

Fresh water impoundment, Bradford County, PA (photo by SRBC)

It takes a lot of water to frack a shalegas (or shale oil) well - millions of gallons. Even people who live in the relatively damp region of Marcellus shale have raised concerns over the millions of gallons drillers use for each well.

Some companies have been recycling their flowback fluids. Others have proposed using minewaste water and water from sewage treatment plants. But that's still millions of gallons of water going downhole that can never be used again. It's gone; out of the water cycle.

And this year, those recycling/re-use efforts simply aren't enough given the drought. Even water-rich NY and PA have seen the driest July on record, forcing the Susquehanna River Basin Commission to halt water withdrawals. Oil and gas drillers in the midwest are so desperate for water that it's becoming a struggle to see whether crops will be irrigated or wells drilled.

Check out this recent article from CNN Money: "Oil companies desperately seek water amid Kansas drought".

Oil and gas companies aren't the only energy companies feeling the heat from climate change. This past Sunday the nuclear power plant in Connecticut shut down one of its two units because the sea water used for cooling was too warm.


  1. There are many water uses that we should be reconsidering. The beverage industry is, to myknowledge, still the largest user of Susquehanna water, closely followed by the recreation industry (golf courses and artificial snow). When considering how water is used we should be evaluating the importance of each (and every) use to the community.

    1. The difference is that the water used for golf courses and snow returns to the water cycle, to be evaporated and return as rain and be used again. Water used by drillers returns as toxic waste that must be sequestered in underground injection (disposal) wells.