ConocoPhillips is committed to the development of water management practices that conserve and protect freshwater resources and enhance the efficiency of water utilization at our facilities
Natural gas production outperforms many energy sources in using water efficiently. ConocoPhillips is committed to the continuous improvement of its operations in all areas where the quality and availability of this precious resource are involved. We focus on groundwater protection, proper handling of flowback or produced water, minimizing the use of freshwater, and funding research to improve the entire spectrum of shale gas operations.
When used to produce electricity, natural gas uses significantly less water than all other thermal power generation options, including coal, nuclear, geothermal and solar trough. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, looking at fuel production and power generation, natural gas-fired power plants use about 200 gallons of water per megawatt hour of electricity produced – about 60 percent less than coal and 75 percent less than nuclear.
Natural Gas Production
Completion of a typical shale gas well requires a one-time use of between 2 million and 5 million gallons of water. This is the equivalent amount of water consumed by 24 households in one year. While consuming a relatively small amount of water, a single shale gas well produces enough natural gas to heat 1,500 homes for 20 years.
For more information on natural gas production's impact on groundwater, see Groundwater Protection & Hydraulic Fracturing.
Freshwater is an essential resource for communities, businesses and ecosystems. Global population growth will increase demand for freshwater and all users – domestic, agriculture, commercial and industry – will need to effectively manage supplies to meet demands.
For example, ConocoPhillips has reduced the amount of water used in the hydraulic fracturing of wells in the Eagle Ford Shale in south Texas by more than 40 percent from earlier efforts.
ConocoPhillips is committed to the development of water management practices that conserve and protect freshwater resources and enhance the efficiency of water utilization at our facilities. For the period 2008 to 2011, we have spent or committed to spend more than $90 million on shale gas technology research and development, including improvements in water use. We continually measure and assess our freshwater usage to manage our consumption and strive to reduce the potential environmental impact associated with our water use.
Where applicable, we evaluate recycling and reuse of water associated with our operations. As part of the effort to reduce the need for freshwater, ConocoPhillips:
- Pursues opportunities to conserve freshwater through alternative approaches to freshwater use and funds research aimed at reducing freshwater consumption. This work includes a pilot project to reclaim flow-back and produced water through reverse osmosis in some of our business units.
- Seeks to employ economically and operationally feasible alternatives to freshwater.
- Assesses, measures and monitors our freshwater usage.
- Works collaboratively with government agencies to identify and permit appropriate water sources for well operations.