Sourcing water for hydraulic fracturing and disposing of produced water are well-known constraints and significant cost items in the development of shale formations in the Permian Basin. Utilizing a water life-cycle approach, some of the produced water can be treated and reused. However, there is usually more produced water than needed and some must be disposed, typically by injection into a disposal well. Whether the water is to be reused or disposaed, it must be treated to some extent. Given the volumes of water involved, treatment technology must be robust and inexpensive. This suggests that the selected technology should be tailored to the characteristics of the water and the quality requirements of the final purpose (reuse or disposal).
This paper starts with characterization of produced water from a few Permian shale fields and proceeds to the selection of appropriate conventional, robust and low cost treatment systems. Using this approach, fit-for-purpose treatment systems have been implemented in the field. Impairment problems with reuse and disposal of this treated produced water have decreased.