In South Texas, the Eagle Ford Shale has been the target of recent, extensive oil exploration. Now new drilling activity is focusing on the Buda Formation.
The permitted zone for wastewater disposal is the Ellenberger Formation.
At over 11,000 feet depth, disposal wells cost upwards of six million dollars to complete.
Due to tremendous sub-surface flows from the north, extremely high pressure is required to inject any water into this structure, driving up disposal costs. Actual disposal volumes have fallen disappointingly short of capacities in many cases.
Earthquake swarms have made Oklahoma the earthquake capital of the United States.
A massive increase in wastewater injection disposal has followed a boom in horizontally drilled oil wells. Injected wastewater volumes are now suspected to contribute to seismic activity.
Oklahoma’s OCC, which oversees the oil and gas industry, has already moved to limit many disposal wells’ capacities and depths. As a result, more wastewater has to be trucked longer distances at higher costs and with wasteful consumption of fuel.
Disposal costs in this region are rapidly rising.
The Marcellus Shale has been a rich target for oil and gas exploration. However, the permitted wastewater disposal zone is extremely “tight.” As a result, actual disposal volumes are very low. Disposal water is being trucked enormous distances and disposal costs are much higher than in other areas of operation.
Southern Kansas is experiencing the same seismic instability as Oklahoma. Less dependent on the oil and gas industry, however, regulators have responded more aggressively. Disposal wells in two southern Kansas counties have been ordered to reduce injection volumes considerably. Disposal costs are rising accordingly.
Kern County is home to one of the country’s richest oil and gas pay zones. It is also home to some of the country’s most productive agricultural farmland. One looming challenge in this environmentally sensitive state is that the oil and gas formations are close to the water table. Additionally, the area has historically been a very active seismic zone. The challenge here is to support responsible oil extraction with an environmentally safe wastewater disposal technology. The prospect of fresh water recovery for irrigation and other uses is a huge opportunity.