MarcellusEffect has a post on reusing hydaulic fracturing water. I’m skeptical that this idea is something that should make people less concerned about hydraulic fracturing fluids.

First, there’s no free lunch.  Any treatment process of this type will produce residuals (i.e. waste solids, in the form of sludges). It will be expensive to dispose of this material properly, which will have concentrated chemicals from the original fluid, and it’s one more place for other problems, such as spillage, etc. to occur.

Further, much of the fluid injected is not recovered…it’s injected into the ground under pressure, to produce cracks into which it can flow. This can’t be called closed loop because a lot of what is injected is not recovered.

Savings of $11,000 per well are quoted, but that’s a fraction of the total cost of a well, and it likely does not take into account sludge disposal costs.  As we see here (pdf file):

When assessing capital investments between vertical and horizontal wells, a vertical well may cost as much as $800,000 (excluding pad and infrastructure) compared to a horizontal well that can cost in the range of $2.5 million or more per well (excluding pad and infrastructure)…

Finally, the water would have to be treated, one way or the other before it is discharged (to a sewer or a water body, for example) so the only real savings would appear to be from the fact that they might not be treating the water up to discharge standards.


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