Analysis of the Relationship Between Water, Oil & Gas in New Mexico: Investigation of Past and Future Trends
Bruce M. Thomson, Janie M. Chermak
The relationship between oil and gas (O&G) production, water supply, and wastewater management in New Mexico is intricate and complicated. Large volumes of water are used for hydrofracturing (HF or fracking) and even larger volumes of wastewater are generated as produced water (PW). This study identified trends in water use and wastewater produced by O&G production.
The analysis found that the number of wells that were fracked approximately doubled between 2015 and 2019, from 623 to 1076, while the volume of water used for fracking increased from 67.6 M bbls/yr (8,700 AF/yr) to 311.4 M bbls/yr (40,000 AF/yr). Although the volume of water used for fracking is large, it constitutes a small fraction, less than 15%, of the total water withdrawn in the O&G producing counties of southeast and northwest New Mexico.
The volumes of PW generated as a part of O&G production increased from 893 M bbls/yr (115,000 AF/yr) in 2015 to 1,240 M bbls/yr (160,000 AF/yr) in 2019. However, the PW-to-oil ratio has dropped steadily from 10 bbls PW/bbl oil in 2008 to 3.1 bbls PW/bbl oil in 2019. Currently half of PW is disposed of by injection into salt water disposal (SWD) wells and the remainder is injected into wells for secondary recovery of oil (SRO).
Information that could not be found for this study includes: (1) data on the volumes of PW used for HF, (2) sources and volumes of PW sent to treatment plants prior to injection for SRO or disposal, and (3) information on transporting fresh water and PW to and from neighboring states.
Hydrofracturing, Produced Water