By Carolina Mijares, NM WRRI Program Manager
Each month NM WRRI is featuring an eNews article describing an individual focus of the ongoing New Mexico Universities Produced Water Synthesis Project. This month we are featuring research being carried out by Martha Cather and Raven Goswick at the Petroleum Recovery Research Center (PRRC), New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology (NMT).
New Mexico, particularly the Permian Basin, has seen a rebirth in oil and gas activity in the past decade due to the development of unconventional resource plays. The increase of horizontal well drilling and hydraulic fracturing has resulted in a dramatic increase of water produced, hauled, and injected. The fresh and produced water used in these operations must be mapped out to understand the demand on freshwater resources in New Mexico, the effects of disposal of large volumes of produced water, and reuse efforts by operators.
The research being conducted by Cather and Goswick will result in a geospatial database of oilfield water volume information. The state of New Mexico provides water production and injection data on a monthly basis, by well. These data will be complied into a searchable database that will allow for spatiotemporal and stratigraphic analysis to illustrate in greater detail locations and volumes of water production and injection, thus gaining a better understanding of the overall “budget” for oilfield waters in New Mexico. Data will include volumes by month, disposition (produced or injected), location (latitude/longitude and section/township/range), current operator, and pool. Where available, additional information such as well type (horizontal, vertical, injection, saltwater disposal (SWD), or producing), spud date, completion date, perforation interval, the true vertical depth and measured depth. This database will be the basis for several other collaborative efforts including work with New Mexico State University on joining information with existing water quality data, with other researchers at NMT on examining impacts of injection to stress response in the Permian Basin, and with The University of New Mexico on their efforts to identify water and wastewater management trends. Another goal of this research is to establish collaborative efforts with operators/service providers to obtain detailed information not available from public sources on water usage, water compositions and recycling efforts. This connection will allow a comparison of public and operator/service providers data to begin a framework for a future risk assessment study.
The ultimate goal of the effort is to lay the groundwork necessary to make the produced water volume and quality data available online, easily searchable and accessible, and updated regularly. The database will be available to the public and will be linked to water quality data sources in the NM Produced Water Quality Database built and maintained by the NM PRRC.