Drought in the oil patch

Tuesday, June 14, 2011 - 6:07pm

It’s a boom that has surprised even some old timers in the business, but it has made some old wells that were thought to be completely played out…into working wells again.
But now, the problem isn’t red tape, or geology or the environment…wait…it is the environment.
The process is called fracturing.
It’s actually an old technique where water loaded with some chemicals, is squirted into solid rock that is at the bottom of old oil and gas wells.
That rock still contains some of the magic elixir and the when cracked open by the high pressure water, oil and gas is released.
So, what could go wrong?
Well, the problem is the sound your hearing. That crunching means that all this is as dry as a tinderbox. That’s because we’re in the worst drought in 116 years. We are also in the biggest oil and gas boom in decades.
Now while this hasn’t got much to do with oil, the drought does.
All that water they need? It’s scarce and is needed for farmers, ranchers and just plain people.
Some areas of West Texas, you know, where some of that old oil is, are already under mandatory water rationing.
Drillers will need to go farther afield for H2O since their normal suppliers aren’t selling.
That’s why many are recycling the water they use. That technique has bought drillers some time up north and can at least be a stopgap down in Texas.
One local oil man we spoke with says there is a company in Pennsylvania that is recycling 100% of all the water it uses, and doesn’t need to buy any more.
Conservation saves money even in the oil biz.


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