Fresh water flowing to shale operators

12 16, 2011 by Shreveport Times

Companies working in the Haynesville Shale now have another alternative when it comes to providing fresh water for hydraulic fracturing.

Heckmann Water Resources announced Wednesday that water from the Red River is flowing through a PVC pipeline that will be 40 miles long when fully commissioned. It represents the largest fresh water line in the shale area.

The company anticipates having the pipeline fully operational next year. It will be capable of carrying up to 60,000 barrels of water a day. Delivery of about 16,000 barrels is projected for this month based on initial orders.

The company has located reservoirs along the pipeline route to hold water transported from its Red River water supply. Ultimately, plans are to draw from the Sabine River, too, the release states.

Heckmann officials discussed more than a year ago a desire to pull water from the Sabine River but have not followed up with formal talks, Sabine River Authority Executive Director Jim Pratt said Thursday.

"Our fresh water pipeline enhances the efficiency and reliability of our total water solutions for HWR customers in the Haynesville Shale area," Richard J. Heckmann, chairman and chief executive officer of Heckmann Corp., said in a prepared statement. "Having secured fresh water sources and operating a fresh water pipeline in the Haynesville Shale area augments the full range of HWR water services and enables us to provide our customers with even more competitively priced fresh water solutions."

Heckmann is not the only company installing a water pipeline. In August, Select Energy Services LLC announced the acquisition of a 12-mile industrial pipeline installed last year by EXCO Water Resources.

It delivers processed water from International Paper Co.'s Mansfield Mill to EXCO's Holly Field northeast of Mansfield. Select plans to market the water to other operators working in the Haynesville Shale region.

Water sources for fracking have been a hot button issue this year in light of the area's drought conditions. Oil and gas operators have been pushed to surface sources so as to not further affect aquifers that are stressed from a lack of significant rainfall over the past two years.

But this year, even the surface sources have dwindled. Private ponds are drying up, and the Toledo Bend Reservoir, which is fed by the Sabine River and any rainfall runoff, is at its lowest level ever.

On average, 6.3 million gallons of fresh water are needed for each natural gas well fracking operation in the Haynesville Shale area.

The water returns to the surface over time, with about 20 percent returning as flowback water within the first two to three weeks after the fracking has commenced, and the remaining water is generally returned to the surface as produced, or saltwater, over the life of the well, which can be up to 30 years, according to the Heckmann release.