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Shale Waste Too Much For Ohio

KENT, Ohio - The amassing volume of brine wastewater created by the oil and gas industry drilling wells for natural gas production could soon overwhelm Ohio's wastewater disposal capacity, researchers say.

A study shows Ohio's 180 injection wells used nearly 14-million barrels of water in 2012, up from 12.8 million barrels in 2011.

"The future expansion of shale gas development in this region does require that we have a very clear plan for managing the growing wastewater volumes that are being generated," says  Brian Lutz, a Kent State University professor who led the analysis.

YSU Geology Professor Jeffrey Dick says the average well will produce from 3 to 6 barrels of brine wastewater per day. Each barrel holds 42 gallons of waste water.

"If you take that and multiply it by the thousands of these wells, the rate of brine production doesn't decline," Dick says. "It holds steady."

Both professors say the cost of transporting so much water by truck is also making possible alternatives such as water pipelines and processing plants more attractive.

"You take that brine water and treat it in a centralized off site facility - basically a distillation plant - and then use that recycled water for fracturing," Dick says. 

A spokesperson for ShaleComm says the industry is doing considerable work and research to recycle processed water for use at multiple drill sites as well as finding alternatives to water based fracturing.

Although he believes research on better recycling options is advancing rapidly, Lutz is unclear how much of the total waste water volume they're going to ultimately be able to recycle.

 

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