FARMINGTON — New Mexico Energy Secretary Dave Martin is calling for new and updated regulations that would encourage recycling and reuse of oilfield produced water, according to a presentation he made during the 2014 Four Corners Oil and Gas Conference earlier this month.
"No permit is required for produced water reuse," he said.
Primarily, he added, that water is use in hydraulic fracturing operations in Southeastern New Mexico, and policies don't exist for companies to reuse or recycle water that is either fresh water or flowback water.
He added that western edge of the Ogallala Aquifer, which sits under eastern New Mexico, is being depleted and new regulations could help curb fresh water use.
"The Ogallala (aquifer) is being depleted. We need to maintain that water for municipal and irrigation and livestock use," he said.
"Right now, in many cases, (companies) are buying fresh water and fresh water is an asset," he said in a interview after his presentation.
Jamie Harris, Northern Region Business Development Lead for Halliburton Company, said fracking operations can use up to four million gallons of water to drill one well, but he said technology can allow companies to reuse water, both fresh and brackish.
"Any kind of water can be used," she said.
During the conference, Harris presented slides showing the technology that treats and filters water for reuse.
She said there is no limit to how many times the recycled water can be reused for fracking purposes provided that the companies continually treat the water.
Ken McQueen, WPX's San Juan Basic director, said WPX recycles flowback water in their operations.
Flowback water is water that literally "flows back" during the fracking process and consists of a mixture of fracking fluid and water from the rock formation.
"We recycle all flowback water for reuse in subsequent fracks," he said.
Martin noted that companies in the San Juan Basin frequently use nitrogen for fracking purposes, which limits the use of water.
He added that he plans to establish a Brackish Water Subcommittee to address issues related to the use of that briny water.
The committee would be comprised of members from Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories and higher education institutions in New Mexico as well as other experts in the state.
"We want to encourage companies to treat and recycle water," he said.