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Cumulative Water Risks related to Oil Production in the Permian Basin

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Course Credit: 0.15 CEU, 1.5 PDH

Assessing cumulative water risks from unconventional oil production is critical for developing water management approaches to reduce these risks. The objective of this study was to assess risks to groundwater and surface water from oil production and evaluate approaches to reduce these in the Permian Basin. The water footprint of unconventional oil and gas production in the Permian, including hydraulic fracturing (HF) water sourcing and produced water (PW) management, has been increasing over the past decade. The primary water risks in the Permian Basin include impacts of HF water sourcing on aquifers and connected rivers and springs and subsurface disposal of produced water related to induced seismicity. Although HF water sources are not reported, up to 3 – 4 times more wells were drilled for HF than for irrigation in the basin. Groundwater discharge to the Pecos River increases from 30-40% of total flow along the basin margin to 70-80% towards the basin center, highlighting the importance of groundwater discharge to surface water in the basin. While most springs have dried up during past decades in response to irrigation, it is extremely critical to maintain flows in the remaining large springs, particularly San Solomon Springs. Most produced water is disposed above the oil reservoirs that may impact salt dissolution and surface subsidence. Contamination related to spills and leaks was reviewed to assess spatiotemporal trends and causes. Quantifying current water management strategies provides a baseline for assessing future options. Knowledge gaps were identified, including reporting of water sources for HF, current and future potential for reuse of PW for HF, produced water quality data required for treatment, and subsurface disposal capacity to accommodate projected PW volumes. All content contained within this webinar is copyrighted by Dr. Harvey Yarranton and its use and/or reproduction outside the portal requires express permission from Dr. Harvey Yarranton.

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  • 1Cumulative Water Risks related to Oil Production in the Permian Basin - Chapter 1
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Earn credits by completing this course0.15 CEU credit1.5 PDH credits


Bridget R. Scanlon