Projecting the Water Footprint Associated with Shale Resource Production: Eagle Ford Shale Case Study

Svetlana A. Ikonnikova, Frank Male, Bridget R. Scanlon, Robert C. Reedy, Guinevere McDaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Production of oil from shale and tight reservoirs accounted for almost 50% of 2016 total U.S. production and is projected to continue growing. The objective of our analysis was to quantify the water outlook for future shale oil development using the Eagle Ford Shale as a case study. We developed a water outlook model that projects water use for hydraulic fracturing (HF) and flowback and produced water (FP) volumes based on expected energy prices; historical oil, natural gas, and water-production decline data per well; projected well spacing; and well economics. The number of wells projected to be drilled in the Eagle Ford through 2045 is almost linearly related to oil price, ranging from 20 000 wells at $30/barrel (bbl) oil to 97 000 wells at $100/bbl oil. Projected FP water volumes range from 20% to 40% of HF across the play. Our base reference oil price of $50/bbl would result in 40 000 additional wells and related HF of 265 × 109 gal and FP of 85 × 109 gal. The presented water outlooks for HF and FP water volumes can be used to assess future water sourcing and wastewater disposal or reuse, and to inform policy discussions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14453-14461
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Science and Technology
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 19 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Chemistry
  • Environmental Chemistry


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