On August 20, 2015, Ben Franklin Shale Gas Innovation & Commercialization Center (SGICC) published a report entitled “Shale Gas Development – Summary of Shale Gas Wastewater Treatment and Disposal in Pennsylvania.” The report assesses the evolution in wastewater issues associated with unconventional oil and gas drilling in Pennsylvania from 2011 to 2014. It comes as an update to a previous report issued in 2012.
The researchers pointed out that the amount of wastewater production remained fairly steady from 2011 to 2014 with approximately 1.8 billion gallons of produced wastewater. As stated in the report, of the 2014 estimated amount of wastewater, “about 91 percent is recycled or stored for future drilling . . . [o]nly 7.9 percent is discharged to underground injection and a much smaller amount, only about 1.1 percent is discharged to surface water.” The researchers acknowledged the effort the industry has made to implement recently adopted Pennsylvania regulations.
Also, the report observed that the volume of produced water has increased compared with flowback water and, as a result, opined that “in the future as the number of producing wells increase without a matching proportional increase in frac water needs, recycling treated wastewater to the next frac job will become more difficult.”
Written by Chloe Marie - Research Fellow