Monday, February 29, 2016

Freshwater Conservation Strategies for the Energy Industry

Every year in Western Canada the oil and gas industry consumes more and more freshwater for every barrel of oil we produce. The industry goal is to produce more oil and gas every year. As a part of Alberta has a semi-dry climate and already faces pressures on the freshwater supply this is not a sustainable strategy.

While the industry is not the biggest user of freshwater, its water use is very unique as the majority of freshwater that is used by the industry becomes permanently removed from the hydrologic cycle and not available in the future for anyone to use. 

At the same time, oil is brought to the surface together with saline water. Every year with production of oil the industry produces more than 3 times the volume of water that it requires. The reason this saline water is not used by the industry, is the additional cost of improving its quality to a standard that will allow use without any adverse effects on oil bearing formations or on the chemicals used in processing. 

The solutions to the problem are not as difficult or expensive for as long as we start to fully understand the value of our freshwater  and accept that the industry's continuing withdrawal of freshwater must be discontinued. 

I shared some of the ideas about what can be done in my presentation at the Calgary Petroleum Club on February 10, 2016 during the Continuing the Conversation: Water Wisdom II meeting. View my full presentation below for details.

My slides are also available on SlideShare.

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