Anadarko recognizes that effective water management and water conservation are essential to developing all energy resources for our world. The availability of water, combined with varying municipal, industrial, agricultural and other demands, affects governments, businesses and individuals in many parts of the world. Anadarko respects water as a natural resource, and where feasible, recycles water used in our operations. We have established a Strategic Water Committee to define and implement a holistic water-management approach that assesses availability and prudent use of water, conservation technology development and public outreach to address water management and challenges according to local conditions and considerations.
Groundwater aquifers are generally located several hundred feet below ground. The geologic formations we access to produce oil and natural gas are typically deeper than 6,000 feet below ground. Thus, groundwater aquifers and the oil and natural gas formations that we access are separated by thousands of feet of solid and impermeable rock. As various studies have confirmed, we believe that well integrity is crucial to ensure protection of groundwater resources.
We construct our wells in accordance with government regulations and industry standards. Across our U.S. onshore operating areas, we require that multiple protective layers of steel pipe, also called casing, and cement be set several hundred feet below the deepest known aquifer and cemented all the way to the surface. The cement must meet certain quality requirements and extend the full length of the casing. These redundant protective boundaries are put in place to establish wellbore integrity. Additionally, the casing is pressure tested, the cement’s quality and placement are checked, and pressure gauges are installed to monitor the well for mechanical integrity once production begins. If a well integrity issue is identified, Anadarko reports it to agencies as required by regulation and strives to take appropriate action to avoid or mitigate any impacts. Learn more about wellbore integrity.
In advance of drilling, Anadarko samples and analyzes domestic fresh water sources in accordance with local requirements. Water is also sampled post-drilling as required by state regulators. We also conduct post-drill sampling as needed in response to landowner concerns.
In Colorado, we go beyond state regulations when evaluating offset wells. The mechanical integrity of offset wells operated and non-operated, active and not active within 2,000 feet of a proposed horizontal wellbore is evaluated, exceeding state requirement of 1,500 feet. Pressure on live wells within 300 feet of a stimulation are monitored. Remediation or plugging operations are conducted on wells that do not meet current integrity standards, and a cement bond log is obtained on all wells per state requirements and pressure tested to maximum allowable pressures, approximately 80 percent of the pipe-burst ratings exceeding state requirements.
We have the capability to use electronic continuous monitoring on multiple tubing and casing strings, which provide alarms at high pressures. Additionally, our Wyoming operations use sand probes on flow lines to send alarms regarding sand erosion and our Utah operations have an active Braden Head monitoring program allowing for pressures to be relieved and tested for optimal safety and performance.
When planning to drill and complete new wells, our teams are expected to follow industry standard minimum separation distances when drilling to mitigate the potential of affecting offset wells. In Colorado, an anti-collision analysis is performed when planning wells to help ensure that new wells do not intersect live or abandoned wells. Across our onshore U.S. operations, offset wells are evaluated for integrity issues and shallow hazards including assessment of casing size and pressure ratings, wellhead pressure ratings, and cement bond logs for zonal isolation. Any well identified with concerns are expected to be addressed with solutions ranging from plugging and reclaiming to replacing the wellhead.
Water Conservation and Best Management Practices
In addition to protecting water resources underground, Anadarko also takes numerous precautions to conserve and protect water above the surface. Anadarko conducts a rigorous assessment in order to determine the appropriate water storage solution in every play. This assessment includes a determination of health and safety risk, risks to the environment and wildlife, and landowner concerns. While we do recycle some produced water at our Colorado operations for hydraulic fracturing, most produced water and other waste products at our U.S. onshore operations go to Anadarko-operated disposal wells, third-party disposal, or evaporation ponds.
Herein are a few examples of our commitment toward responsible water management across our operating areas.
Even before it was required by regulation, we partnered with the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC) and Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) to conduct baseline water sampling of new wells outside the greater DJ Basin area. As part of this proactive effort, we paid for an independent third party to collect and test water samples and maintain the results with the COGCC, to ensure our operations did not impact water quality in our operating areas. As a result, water sampling is now a required step in Colorado under the oversight of the COGCC.
Our water sources currently consist of water supplies decreed and approved for commercial and industrial uses in Colorado, and we do not use Denver Basin aquifer groundwater.
Furthermore, we have implemented a water recycling and closed-loop system Water-On-Demand (WOD), consisting of more than 150 miles of pipeline. The WOD system utilizes automation and consolidates equipment to conserve water, reduce traffic by more than 2,000 vehicles per day, and reduce GHG emissions. We transport about 98 percent of the water we use via these pipelines. The WOD system has the additional benefit of reducing the number of water storage tanks needed onsite, which further reduces surface impacts.
Additionally in 2016, the DJ Basin water team entered into a research project with Colorado School of Mines for DJ Basin produced water treatment and recycling research.
In the Greater Natural Buttes area, Anadarko has been recognized on several occasions for its Anadarko Completions Transportation System (ACTS), an innovative water-management program that uses existing natural gas well locations as temporary staging sites. These staging sites treat recycled flowback water from hydraulic fracturing and then move the filtered water directly to the next operation through temporary pipelines. These pipelines use existing pad locations and rights-of-way that minimize additional surface disturbance, truck traffic and associated emissions.
Anadarko and its sponsored master limited partnership Western Gas Partners, L.P. (WES) further enhanced focused on water in the Delaware Basin in 2016 by creating a commercial water company to serve Delaware Basin upstream producers. The company, DBM Water Services, LLC, is a subsidiary of WES and provides produced water gathering and disposal services. DBM Water Services is actively planning for the future of produced water management by forming a research and development team to characterize injection formations in the basin and study leading-edge water-treatment technologies that will enable large-scale recycling and resuse of produced water. DBM Water Services further intends to build infrastructure that is connected and shared by upstream producers to minimize cost and maximize efficiency.
Anadarko implements water-management and recycling programs worldwide that conserve water, and we also participate in partnerships to advance best practices. Examples of our commitment to continue evaluating ways to conserve and manage water are highlighted below:
- Anadarko is a leader in the Energy Water Initiative (EWI), an industry group of nearly 20 North American exploration and production companies formed in 2012 to foster better understanding of the life cycle of water used in unconventional production. EWI actively seeks opportunities to advance applied research in water acquisition, conservation, recycling and water resource sustainability.
- Anadarko is a leader in a number of industry groups working to improve water-management practices and encourage water stewardship. These groups include the Hydraulic Fracturing Committees of the American Exploration and Production Council (AXPC), the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC) and the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC).
- Anadarko continues to voluntarily report water-management activities to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) to provide transparency regarding our performance to interested parties and contribute to global awareness of water-related issues.
- To appropriately manage and conserve water, Anadarko strives to maximize recycling of flowback and produced water where feasible. In addition, and in full compliance with all regulatory requirements, the company may utilize wastewater disposal wells as an option to appropriately manage water. In those instances where disposal or injection wells are utilized, the company has established a procedure to evaluate and/or address the potential for induced seismicity. This procedure includes a careful review of the local and sub-regional geology and understanding of regional faulting, among numerous other considerations.
- In 2015, Anadarko partnered with Energy Water Solutions, the Texas Railroad Commission, Texas A&M AgriLife Research and Gibson Energy for the Produced Water Irrigation Project. The project evaluated using recycled produced water from oil and natural gas activity in the Delaware Basin to irrigate a cotton crop in nearby Pecos, Texas. See full report.