A briny man-made lake in Canadian County has helped Devon Energy Corp. recycle 1.3 million barrels of water since June.
That has allowed the Oklahoma City-based company to drill and complete three dozen wells in the area amid a lingering drought. Hydraulic fracturing for each well requires roughly 180,000 barrels of water.
“If we hadn't had this pipeline and reservoir in place, we wouldn't have been able to do those 36 wells,” said Jim Heinze, Devon's operations engineering manager. “There's just not enough water available in that condensed area.”
Devon's water reuse facility, which is about halfway between Geary and Calumet, includes a lined reservoir that can hold up to 500,000 barrels of water, with an office and seldom-used ramp for truck traffic. Much of the water into and out of the reservoir moves through a pipeline system that includes about 10 miles of pipe.
“We've put enough in the ground to complete our 2012 program,” facility manager Travis Dean said. “We're actually working to get enough for our drilling program for next year as well.”
Devon officials expect the water project to help it reuse 3 million barrels of water in its well completion operations by the end of the year, while pushing its number of completed wells past 60.
“By completing wells with water we can reuse or recycle, we can conserve millions of gallons of fresh water for surrounding communities,” Devon spokeswoman Cindy Allen said.
Heinze said Devon actually has not produced as much water as expected from its completed wells, but the recycling program has been working well since the facility went online on June 1.
The reservoir Devon built is about 10 times bigger than what is standard in the industry for water storage, so company officials worked closely with the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to craft the necessary regulations for the project, Heinze said. The process took several years.
Dean said construction of the reservoir and associated facilities began around the first of the year, with pipeline installation beginning in the spring. Additional pipeline will be installed as Devon continues to develop its operations in the area, known as the Cana-Woodford Shale because of its location in Canadian County.
The facility is big enough to accommodate every barrel of water produced from completed Devon wells within a radius of about 10 miles, so it can be reused in future wells.
Heinze said Devon has two crews working 24 hours a day on completions, with almost enough recycled water to supply half of the needed water for one of them.
He said some wells are completed with 100 percent reused water, but the percentage varies based on the amount of water in the reservoir.
Oklahoma wells yield produced water that is low in salts, or total dissolved solids, so Devon does not have to distill it before it is recycled for other operations, Heinze said.
“The longer this system's in place and the more wells we hook up to it, the less fresh water we'll need because we'll have more of the produced water, the flowback water, that will be available for new well completions,” Heinze said.
The system is designed to be able to serve Devon's operations across 33 sections of land, with nine wells drilled on each section.
“We're kind of just getting the ball rolling here,” Dean said.
Heinze said Devon hopes to duplicate the process in other areas as its operations move on.
The company has not disclosed the cost of the project, which is ongoing, but it expects to save money because Devon will not have to truck in as much water.
The project has diverted more than 7,400 truckloads of disposed water from county roads.
“Cost saving wasn't the primary motivator behind this project,” Allen said. “The facility allows us to have the water we need to continue our operations in a drought-prone area.”
If we hadn't had this pipeline and reservoir in place, we wouldn't have been able to do those 36 wells. There's just not enough water available in that condensed area.”