Water use and hydraulic fracturing

We all need water. We all need energy. It’s not a question of one or the other. It's a matter of using both responsibly.

We recognize that our water requirements and the challenges posed by our operations require tailored approaches to water management – protecting and using water wisely is critical to our ongoing success. We adapt our water management approach to account for geological factors, local water resources, stakeholder feedback and our operational needs. While we have measures in place to ensure responsible water management, we are committed to continuously improving our processes.

What does Encana use water for?

We use water throughout our operations, including both well drilling and completions operations. During drilling operations, a mixture of clay and water is used to carry rock chips or cuttings to the surface, cool and lubricate the drill bit and maintain pressure in the borehole. We also use water during completions operations which includes hydraulic fracturing, where a combination of water, sand and a small amount of chemical additives is injected through the well to the target rock formation, which is located deep underground, at high pressures. The injected fluid creates small cracks in the targeted rock formation, allowing gas to flow up to ground surface.

Where does Encana get its water?

No single approach works in all of our operating areas and sources can vary from region to region. We use a variety of water sources in developing natural gas, depending on local water resources, geological factors, stakeholder feedback and operational needs. Some sources we may use include rivers, lakes, outflow from wastewater treatment plants, groundwater and reuse of water produced along with our oil and gas. Where produced water can’t be recycled, we dispose of it responsibly, in accordance with regulations.

What is hydraulic fracturing?

Virtually every natural gas well drilled requires some type of stimulation to enhance gas to flow. Hydraulic fracturing is one such technique. Hydraulic fracturing is a controlled operation that pumps a mixture of fluids (water, sand and a small amount of chemical additives) at high pressures into the wellbore and into the target formation. As the mixture is forced into the surrounding rock, the pressure causes the rock to fracture. These fractures create pathways for the gas to flow to the well and up to surface.

Hydraulic fracturing operations are designed using computer modeling software. These designs ensure that the fractures are contained within the intended rock formation. The actual dimensions, extent and geometry of the fractures are controlled by the rate at which the fluid is pumped and the pressure, volume and viscosity of the fracturing fluid. A recently developed technology, known as microseismic monitoring, lets us evaluate important elements of each hydraulic fracture treatment, such as vertical and lateral fracture extent and complexity, in real time.

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