Oil's Thirst for Water is Making Headlines

Eagle Ford water use made the front page of the Wall St. Journal. At the center of the debate is the use of water in hydraulic fracturing (fracking). While the worry is over contamination in other parts of the country, we're in the midst of a record drought in South Texas that has many ranchers and farmers concerned. The biggest challenge for oil and gas development in South Texas might become sourcing sufficient volumes of water and not the public perception of risk. The story notes a single well uses 6 million gallons of water, but usage is down to as little at 3.5 million gallons per well for companies like ConocoPhillips. As companies have moved into liquids rich plays, more water is required in completions. An Eagle Ford well needs almost twice the amount of water used per well in the Barnett Shale of North Texas.

I'm paraphrasing, but a water rights lawyer in Texas made a good point in saying the oil and gas industry has been encouraged to produce as much as possible while state water use rules moved more conservative. Those two oppose each other and have set us up for conflict.

A couple of good stats from the story:

  • Carrizo Springs' population has doubled in the past two years
  • Dimmit County 2011 tax receipts will be more than the past 5 years combined
  • UTSA says the oil industry will support 68,000 Eagle Ford jobs by 2020
  • 964 public water systems restricted water use in some capacity in 2011

Read the entire article at wsj.com