Increase in wastewater reported

The amount of wastewater created by oil and gas wells has increased in recent years, according to a new estimate, but not as fast as oil and gas production.

Oil and gas production yielded 1.02 trillion gallons of wastewater in 2017, or 2.8 billion gallons a day, according to the estimate by John Veil, an expert on energy and water who previously managed the water policy program at the Argonne National Laboratory. That is an increase of 15% above 2012.

During that time, Veil’s report says, oil production increased by 50% and gas production increased by nearly 18%.

“The important take-away message is that water production increased at a slower rate than oil and gas production,” the report said.

That’s because the unconventional wells — generally horizontal wells that are fracked — that have driven the country’s shale boom produce less water than conventional wells, which tend to be older, Veil said.

The report was done for the Groundwater Protection Council, an Oklahoma City-based nonprofit of state water regulators. Veil is discussing his research at a Groundwater Protection Council meeting this week in San Antonio, Texas.

There is no centralized national reporting of oil field wastewater from the roughly 1 million active oil and gas wells in the United States. Veil tracked down data from more than 30 state oil and gas regulators along with federal agencies. He says the report is the most comprehensive and current data on produced water volume and what happens to it.