Bridging the Gap between Produced Water and Source Water: An Economic Analysis of Produced Water Treatment
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Accumulating seismicity and groundwater contamination concerns are fueling increased regulations that can significantly burden an exploration and production (E&P) company’s water management budget – especially in a low-cost market. The goal of this research is to evaluate the economics of oil and gas produced water (PW) treatment and reuse as an alternative to injection well disposal. The primary objectives are: 1) determine general field conditions that economically favor treatment and reuse, 2) compare the relative economics between mobile (on-site) and centralized treatment, 3) evaluate pipeline versus trucking transportation and 4) assess zero liquid discharge (ZLD) treatment technology feasibility. The model, built to address the objectives, functions as a PW management planning and decision support tool for an operator. For input field conditions, the model simulates disposal and treatment and reuse – comparing mobile versus centralized treatment. Trucking and pipeline conveyance are evaluated for centralized treatment transportation. The model outputs the net water management cost and operator breakeven treatment cost (OBE) for each scenario. The OBE is the cost of treatment for which the economics of injection disposal and treatment and reuse are equal. When a service company’s treatment cost is less than or equal to the OBE, treatment and reuse is feasible. A sensitivity analysis identified the primary economic drivers. The observed effects of each driver on the OBE indicate conditions that promote treatment and reuse. These conditions include long distances, high treatment recoveries, high injection costs and long project lifespans. Relative economics favor on-site treatment and reuse for long distances, high treatment recoveries, low project lifespans and an increase in pipeline cost. The opposite is observed for centralized with pipeline. The model simulated for the Texas Permian Basin. Results demonstrate the use of the model and provide insights into the potential for Permian Basin water cost savings.
Hussey, Tyler Franklin (2017). Bridging the Gap between Produced Water and Source Water: An Economic Analysis of Produced Water Treatment. Master's thesis, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from
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