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Environ Sci Technol. 2012 Mar 20;46(6):3580-6. doi: 10.1021/es204602t. Epub 2012 Mar 9.

Water use for Shale-gas production in Texas, U.S.

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Bureau of Economic Geology, Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 10100 Burnet Road, Building 130, Austin, Texas 78758, United States.


Shale-gas production using hydraulic fracturing of mostly horizontal wells has led to considerable controversy over water-resource and environmental impacts. The study objective was to quantify net water use for shale-gas production using data from Texas, which is the dominant producer of shale gas in the U.S. with a focus on three major plays: the Barnett Shale (~15,000 wells, mid-2011), Texas-Haynesville Shale (390 wells), and Eagle Ford Shale (1040 wells). Past water use was estimated from well-completion data, and future water use was extrapolated from past water use constrained by shale-gas resources. Cumulative water use in the Barnett totaled 145 Mm(3) (2000-mid-2011). Annual water use represents ~9% of water use in Dallas (population 1.3 million). Water use in younger (2008-mid-2011) plays, although less (6.5 Mm(3) Texas-Haynesville, 18 Mm(3) Eagle Ford), is increasing rapidly. Water use for shale gas is <1% of statewide water withdrawals; however, local impacts vary with water availability and competing demands. Projections of cumulative net water use during the next 50 years in all shale plays total ~4350 Mm(3), peaking at 145 Mm(3) in the mid-2020s and decreasing to 23 Mm(3) in 2060. Current freshwater use may shift to brackish water to reduce competition with other users.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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