Reusing water surfaced during oil production topic of Midland conference

Published: Aug. 14, 2023 at 6:33 PM CDT
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MIDLAND, Texas (KOSA) - The Produced Water Society’s annual Permian Basin Summit kicks off Monday evening in downtown Midland.

It will continue with two days of discussion and networking at the Horseshoe Arena on Aug. 15-16.

The event brings the industry together to find new uses for produced water. Experts say five to 10 barrels of water are produced per each barrel of oil. That water is stored alongside the oil that surfaces when rock is fractured, said Ben Samuels, vice president of the society.

“That water is pretty brackish,” Samuels said. “It’s pretty nasty. especially when you get through the production process, a lot of those production chemicals are in there and so you have to do a lot of treatment.”

That water may be returned into the earth, put into a pit for reuse or treated. The latter is the conference’s main focus.

“You can treat the water,” Samuels said. “And what I mean by that is, introduce other chemicals that will reduce that bacteria and reduce some of the chemicals that are in the water that came out of the ground. So you can use it to do things like farming cotton.”

Finding other applications for produced water, like farming products that aren’t eaten, is another discussion topic.

This sector is expected to grow, according to Michael Lozano, who handles government relations at the Permian Basin Petroleum Association.

“This is, I think, easily the most innovative portion of the sector right now,” Lozano said. “From a big perspective, we’ve seen large investment and interest in this from the University of Texas Permian Basin, we’ve seen it at Texas Tech, and of course the Produced Water Society and of course our members at PBPA, are really focused on this new segment of the industry.”

One of the main challenges for produced water is earthquake concerns.

“There’s so much innovation in this space right now and I think all of it is because of a goal to reduce seismic activity,” Lozano said.

Another major theme is how produced water relates to underground pressure.

“And to the point the industry can be cognizant of that and be part of the solution, we’re really trying to endeavor to do that,” Samuels said. “So you know, if you come to the conference you’ll see seismicity brought up time and time and time again. It’s really throughout the agenda.”

Samuels says this event isn’t just for professionals. He says it’s a great opportunity for anyone who wants to learn more about produced water.