Water Use and Management in the Bakken Shale Oil Play in North Dakota.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Oil and natural gas development in the Bakken shale play of North Dakota has grown substantially since 2008. This study provides a comprehensive overview and analysis of water quantity and management impacts from this development by (1) estimating water demand for hydraulic fracturing in the Bakken from 2008 to 2012; (2) compiling volume estimates for maintenance water, or brine dilution water; (3) calculating water intensities normalized by the amount of oil produced, or estimated ultimate recovery (EUR); (4) estimating domestic water demand associated with the large oil services population; (5) analyzing the change in wastewater volumes from 2005 to 2012; and (6) examining existing water sources used to meet demand. Water use for hydraulic fracturing in the North Dakota Bakken grew 5-fold from 770 million gallons in 2008 to 4.3 billion gallons in 2012. First-year wastewater volumes grew in parallel, from an annual average of 1,135,000 gallons per well in 2008 to 2,905,000 gallons in 2012, exceeding the mean volume of water used in hydraulic fracturing and surpassing typical 4-year wastewater totals for the Barnett, Denver, and Marcellus basins. Surprisingly, domestic water demand from the temporary oilfield services population in the region may be comparable to the regional water demand from hydraulic fracturing activities. Existing groundwater resources are inadequate to meet the demand for hydraulic fracturing, but there appear to be adequate surface water resources, provided that access is available.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Horner, RM; Harto, CB; Jackson, RB; Lowry, ER; Brandt, AR; Yeskoo, TW; Murphy, DJ; Clark, CE

Published Date

  • March 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 3275 - 3282

PubMed ID

  • 26866674

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1520-5851

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0013-936X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1021/acs.est.5b04079


  • eng