Water is an essential component of Chesapeake’s deep shale oil and natural gas development. Chesapeake uses water for drilling, where a mixture of clay and water is used to carry rock cuttings to the surface and to cool and lubricate the drillbit.
Water is also used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, where a mixture of water, sand and other additives are pumped under high pressure into the deep shale to create small fissures, or fractures, in the rock that allow oil and natural gas to flow. For a typical horizontal well in the Niobrara Shale, Chesapeake uses about 4.3 million gallons of water during drilling and hydraulic fracturing. To put this in perspective, this is the same amount of water used by:
- The City of Denver in approximately 26 minutes
- A 1,000 megawatt coal-fired power plant every 10.5 hours
- A typical Colorado golf course for irrigation for 21.5 days
- 6.5 acres of Wyoming wheat each season
When compared to every other viable form of energy produced today, such as biofuels, coal and nuclear, Chesapeake uses a mere fraction of the overall water resources. Plus, we have a highly innovative water recycling process (Aqua Renew®) in place that is increasing our water efficiency.
Chesapeake utilizes a variety of water sources during Niobrara oil and natural gas exploration, including major reservoirs, municipalities, rivers, ponds, lakes and groundwater wells. Chesapeake is reviewing the use of a variety of other water resources, such as treated discharge water from industrial or city wastewater treatment plants and the reuse of fracking water. When drilling inside city limits, Chesapeake often works directly with local officials to arrange water purchases from a municipality.