Generation, transport, and disposal of wastewater associated with Marcellus Shale gas development


Journal Article

Hydraulic fracturing has made vast quantities of natural gas from shale available, reshaping the energy landscape of the United States. Extracting shale gas, however, generates large, unavoidable volumes of wastewater, which to date lacks accurate quantification. For the Marcellus shale, by far the largest shale gas resource in the United States, we quantify gas and wastewater production using data from 2189 wells located throughout Pennsylvania. Contrary to current perceptions, Marcellus wells produce significantly less wastewater per unit gas recovered (approximately 35%) compared to conventional natural gas wells. Further, well operators classified only 32.3% of wastewater from Marcellus wells as flowback from hydraulic fracturing; most wastewater was classified as brine, generated over multiple years. Despite producing less wastewater per unit gas, developing the Marcellus shale has increased the total wastewater generated in the region by approximately 570% since 2004, overwhelming current wastewater disposal infrastructure capacity. © 2013. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Lutz, BD; Lewis, AN; Doyle, MW

Published Date

  • April 29, 2013

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 49 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 647 - 656

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1944-7973

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0043-1397

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/wrcr.20096

Citation Source

  • Scopus