Generally speaking, water management is the activity of planning, developing, distributing and optimizing water resources via practices defined by water policies and regulations. This includes management of water treatment (drinking water, industrial water, sewage or wastewater), water resources, flood protection, irrigation and water tables. Because of the large amount of water generated-along with the need to protect natural ecosystems-the oil and gas industry is actively engaged in water management activities and research.
Why is water management important?
Water is one of the world's most valuable resources. Since 1900, the Earth's population has doubled to over 6 billion people. During the same time, modernization, expanded manufacturing, and higher living standards have boosted water use by 600%. According to World Bank statistics, in over 80 countries the health of their people and economies are threatened by inadequate access to clean water for drinking and sanitation. In all, 2.4 billion of the world's people do not reap the benefits of successful water management.
Further, almost all produced water must be treated before being disposed of. These costs vary based on geography, logistics, and regional regulations; however, the cost generally ranges from $2 to $14 a barrel. These costs are significant when considering that, on average, three barrels of water are produced for each barrel of oil or gas and that produced water comprises 98% of all waste generated by petroleum exploration and production. Reducing the number of barrels of water produced and finding alternative uses for produced water can considerably reduce the cost of hydrocarbon development.