According to a report by the Wall Street Journal, energy industry giants Halliburton Corp. and Schlumberger Ltd., as well as smaller outfits, such as Ecologix Environmental Systems LLC, are pursing technologies to reuse the water that comes out of natural gas wells following the hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” process.
While the water isn’t useable for drinking or growing crops, it can be cleaned of chemicals and rock debris and reused to frack additional wells, which could sharply cut the costs that energy companies face in the process of securing and disposing of water.
Some companies are finding it is still cheaper in many parts of the U.S. to inject the wastewater deep underground instead of cleaning it, which has slowed adoption of recycling technology. But the WSJ report says many experts believe the reuse of frack water will become more commonplace as shale gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing become more widespread.
Schlumberger predicts a million new wells will be fracked around the world between now and 2035. Though fracking has brought U.S. oil production to its highest level in more than 14 years and produced a glut of natural gas, according to the WSJ report, it requires huge amounts of water, raising costs for energy companies and spurring opposition from environmental groups at a time when some states are suffering through droughts.