Access to water is essential to the communities and ecosystems near our operations and for our ability to produce natural gas and oil. Water risks are evolving globally in response to cumulative effects of human water demand, physical effects of climate change and changing priorities and expectations of governments, investors and society. We measure and report on the volume of freshwater and non-freshwater withdrawn from local water sources and the volume of produced water that is reused, recycled, disposed or discharged after treatment. This data is used to estimate our water intensity and exposure to water stress. We also collect water forecast data for our Long-Range Plan which enables us to test our portfolio of projects against our water risks to make better-informed strategic decisions. Read more about our water management approach.

Water use graphs

Water sourcing and produced water disposal for our unconventional assets continue to be priority risks for our business and stakeholders. While some water is required during drilling, the majority is used for fracking. Some wells can produce more water than natural gas or oil, and the relative volumes vary significantly with basin geology/hydrogeology.

  • In the China Draw area of the Delaware Basin, where produced water is plentiful, we began using a centralized water gathering and distribution system in 2019. The system includes a produced water treatment facility, storage ponds for treated produced water and pipeline gathering, and distribution infrastructure. We have a target to use 98% recycled produced water for fracking in China Draw in 2020. 
  • In the Eagle Ford region of southern Texas, less water is produced with the natural gas and oil, so we utilize water from deeper, more brackish water sources that are not used for municipal, domestic or agricultural purposes. In 2019, we began using a pipeline system for central gathering and disposal of produced water for facilities in DeWitt County. That system will be expanded, and a similar central gathering and disposal system is expected to be completed for facilities in Karnes County in 2020. We have also developed a three-dimensional visualization tool, which provides a 3-D digital model of aquifers, water wells and natural gas and oil wells.
  • For our Bakken operations in North Dakota, the majority of source water is transported using temporary, lay-flat pipelines from central storage ponds, and produced water is transferred to disposal wells using pipeline infrastructure. 
  • In the Montney basin in Canada, we completed water sourcing agreements with the Halfway River First Nation, secured a 20-year term water license and completed the installation of a centralized water gathering and distribution system in 2019. We have a target to recycle at least 80% of the produced water for fracking, with the remaining amount sourced from a local river.

The 2019 freshwater consumption intensity  for our unconventional assets in the U.S. (Eagle Ford, Delaware and Bakken) and in Canada (Montney) is 0.27 BBL/BOE EUR. This is a 7% reduction compared to 2018 due to ramping up of produced water recycling in Delaware and the increased use of non-fresh groundwater sources in the Eagle Ford.

We use the World Resources Institute Aqueduct Risk Atlas (Aqueduct tool) to assess our portfolio exposure to water stress. Our Anadarko, Lost Cabin Gas Plant, Permian Basin Central Platform and Alaska Kuparuk assets are located in basins with high or extremely high baseline water stress and accounted for 8.4% of our total freshwater withdrawal in 2019.