Whiting understands and respects water as a limited natural resource and is committed to responsible water use. We recognize that our water use affects neighboring communities, governments, businesses and industries, and remain dedicated to using water responsibly and effectively while developing energy resources. Whiting sources its fresh water from nearby water resources and minimizes our water use by using only the necessary volume of fresh water. Where possible, we utilize pipelines to transport fresh water, eliminating haul trucks and their associated emissions and road traffic.
Learn more about Whiting’s approach to responsible water use in the section below.
RESPONSIBLE WATER USE
To further our commitment to responsible water use, Whiting has developed a Water Strategies Committee responsible for:
- increasing water efficiency
- evaluating water sources that have less of an impact to the environment and communities
- investigating the viability of water recycling technologies.
The Committee is developing metrics to measure and assess our responsible water use. In addition, Whiting has partnered with other industry members in the Energy Water Initiative to study, describe and improve water use and management. These efforts help us evaluate and reduce our impact to neighboring communities and the environment.
Since Whiting’s water needs, along with water sources, differ across our operations, the following sections describe our commitment to responsible water use in our shale play hydraulic fracturing operations.
Bakken Shale Play
When possible, Whiting reduces its fresh water use by substituting both recycled produced water and municipal wastewater for fresh water. The Water Strategies Committee is exploring expansion of produced water recycling. The table below provides fresh and produced water usage metrics for our Bakken shale play.
Water Volumes Used in Northern Rockies Well Completion Operations
DJ Basin Shale Play
In Whiting’s DJ Basin shale play, fresh water needs are met primarily by private, non-tributary groundwater sources in Weld County, Colorado, due to the limited availability of surface water sources. All fresh water is transported via pipeline to its end-use point, which has eliminated approximately 28,000 water haul truck trips and associated air emissions and traffic. Our water transported by pipeline is estimated to reduce approximately 2,455 tons and 15 tons of greenhouse gas and nitrogen oxide emissions, respectively, each year.
Water Volumes Used in DJ Basin Well Completion Operations
PROTECTING WATER SOURCES
Whiting is committed to responsible resource development and protecting all sources of water in the areas we operate in. The following sections describe the programs and processes we utilize to protect the water sources in the communities we operate in.
Baseline Groundwater Sampling Program
To ensure groundwater impacts are minimized, Whiting evaluates and monitors pre- and post-drilling groundwater quality through its Baseline Groundwater Sampling Program. Prior to the well conductor being set, available water sources (e.g., stock wells, drinking water wells, surface water features) are sampled to assess the baseline groundwater quality. Following hydraulic fracturing, additional samples are collected from the same water sources, to evaluate if groundwater quality was affected by completion activities. Baseline groundwater sampling is mandatory by law in Colorado and is regulated by the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). In states that don’t require baseline groundwater sampling, such as North Dakota, Whiting is still committed to protecting water sources, and has instituted a voluntary baseline groundwater sampling program.
In an effort to identify, evaluate and address matters related to induced seismicity, Whiting has created an Induced Seismicity Committee, that is focused on identifying and mitigating induced seismicity risk and liability pertaining to produced water disposal and hydraulic fracturing.
SPILL PREVENTION AND RESPONSE
Whiting has developed a robust Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan Program that provides personnel with the tools necessary to efficiently and effectively prevent releases and respond to them if they occur. Strategically located spill response trailers throughout our drilling and production areas offer quick response times to Whiting assets. Peer benchmarking studies show that Whiting is consistently below the industry average for spills.
Whiting also prepares for potential incidents through rigorous emergency response training and an effective Incident Command System. In addition, several individual programs exist to review and update all emergency response plans and processes as necessary.
Whiting is also one of the original members of the Sakakawea Area Spill Response, LLC (SASR), which is a company composed of 17 oil, gas and pipeline operators in the upper Missouri River and Lake Sakakawea region Region of North Dakota. SASR members have agreed to share resources and purchase and maintain equipment to facilitate a quick and comprehensive response to an open water spill. The goal is to minimize impacts to the area and protect local residents and the environment.
Hydraulic fracturing has become a key element of oil and natural gas development within the United States. Today, it is part of the process of drilling and completing most onshore oil and natural gas wells. This well-stimulation method is a process that has been used since the 1940’s to coax oil and gas out of tight shale formations more than a mile underground. Currently, more than 90% of all crude oil and natural gas wells drilled in the U.S. employ hydraulic fracturing. Although the injection process for each well typically lasts only two to three days, the well may produce for 20 years or more.
Commonly known as “fracking,” the stimulation process involves injecting a mixture of water, sand and a small amount of chemical additives at high pressure into rock formations many thousands of feet below the surface of the earth. The mixture travels inside layers of cement and steel casing until it reaches the targeted formations with oil. In these targeted formations small fractures are made in the rock that provide a path for trapped oil and natural gas to flow into the wellbore.
The ingredients used in fracking fluids vary according to geology. Whiting designs each of its hydraulic fracturing jobs and fluid used to the specific characteristics of the rock we are operating in. In general terms, water makes up more than 90 percent of the solution. Sand, or proppant, constitutes approximately 9 percent and additives make up less than 1 percent of the total volume. The relatively small amount of additives generally consists of items you can find under your kitchen sink, as you can see here.
Whiting believes trust and transparency is essential to the continued progress of energy development. In furtherance of this belief, Whiting is dedicated to disclosing the chemicals used in our completion fluids. We provide a Hydraulic Fracturing Fluid Product Component Information Disclosure Report for each of our wells. Nearly 1,900 of these reports may be found on the FracFocus website. In addition to the operator and the fluid content, each filing identifies the API number, job start and end dates, state, county and well name. Whiting also works with all its vendors to report fluids used in hydraulic fracturing to FracFocus.
For more on Whiting’s method of hydraulic fracturing, watch this video: