Oil and gas fracking producers in Texas and New Mexico will be looking for more than US$9 billion over the next decade, just to drill new wells to dispose of their polluted water, according to analysis published late last month.
The output across the Permian Basin region adds up to a staggering 17.5 million barrels of dirty water per day.
“The scale of the challenge is mind-boggling,” Bloomberg reports, citing a note to clients from Raymond James & Associates. “Drillers typically pump 30 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water into an oil well to fracture the surrounding rocks. In return, as much as 10 barrels come rushing back out for every one barrel of crude.”
“Most investors are simply unaware of the fact that as crude production grows, produced ‘dirty’ water grows even faster,” wrote Raymond James analyst Marshall Adkins. “As the Permian Basin shifts further into manufacturing mode, the water growth we project will create the need for nearly 1,000 additional salt water disposal wells by 2030.” Bloomberg says the industry’s water recycling efforts “aren’t robust enough” to handle the incredible volume of waste that fracking produces. “After all, so-called produced water is 10 times saltier than seawater and can be tainted with heavy metals and radioactivity.”