oversight

Energy-Water Nexus: Information on the Quantity, Quality, and Management of Water Produced during Oil and Gas Production

Published by the Government Accountability Office on 2012-01-09.

Below is a raw (and likely hideous) rendition of the original report. (PDF)

               United States Government Accountability Office

GAO            Report to the Ranking Member,
               Committee on Science, Space, and
               Technology, House of Representatives


January 2012
               ENERGY-WATER
               NEXUS

               Information on the
               Quantity, Quality, and
               Management of Water
               Produced during Oil
               and Gas Production




GAO-12-156
                                             January 2012

                                             ENERGY-WATER NEXUS
                                             Information on the Quantity, Quality, and
                                             Management of Water Produced during Oil and Gas
                                             Production
Highlights of GAO-12-156, a report to the
Ranking Member, Committee on Science,
Space, and Technology, House of
Representatives



Why GAO Did This Study                       What GAO Found
Water is a significant byproduct             A significant amount of water is produced daily as a byproduct from drilling of oil
associated with oil and gas exploration      and gas. A 2009 Argonne National Laboratory study estimated that 56 million
and production. This water, known as         barrels of water are produced onshore every day, but this study may
“produced water,” may contain a              underestimate the current total volume because it is based on limited, and in
variety of contaminants. If produced         some cases, incomplete data generated by the states. In general, the volume of
water is not appropriately managed or        produced water generated by a given well varies widely according to three key
treated, these contaminants may              factors: the hydrocarbon being produced, the geographic location of the well, and
present a human health and                   the method of production used. For example, some gas wells typically generate
environmental risk.
                                             large volumes of water early in production, whereas oil wells typically generate
GAO was asked to describe (1) what is        less. Generally, the quality of produced water from oil and gas production is poor,
known about the volume and quality of        and it cannot be readily used for another purpose without prior treatment. The
produced water from oil and gas              specific quality of water produced by a given well, however, can vary widely
production; (2) what practices are           according to the same three factors that impact volume—hydrocarbon,
generally used to manage and treat           geography, and production method.
produced water, and what factors are
considered in the selection of each;         Oil and gas producers can choose from a number of practices to manage and
(3) how produced water management            treat produced water, but underground injection is the predominant practice
is regulated at the federal level and in     because it requires little or no treatment and is often the least costly option.
selected states; and (4) what federal        According to federal estimates, more than 90 percent of produced water is
research and development efforts have        managed by injecting it into wells that are designated to receive produced water.
been undertaken during the last 10           A limited amount of produced water is disposed of or reused by producers in
years related to produced water. To          other ways, including discharging it to surface water, storing it in surface
address these objectives, GAO                impoundments or ponds so that it can evaporate, irrigating crops, and reusing it
reviewed studies and other documents         for hydraulic fracturing. Managing produced water in these ways can require
on produced water and interviewed            more advanced treatment methods, such as distillation. How produced water is
federal and state regulatory officials,      ultimately managed and treated is primarily an economic decision, made within
federal scientists, officials from oil and   the bounds of federal and state regulations.
gas companies and water treatment
companies, and other experts. GAO            The management of produced water through underground injection is subject to
focused its review on the nine states        the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control program, which is
that generate nearly 90 percent of the       designed to prevent contamination of aquifers that supply public water systems
produced water, and conducted site           by ensuring the safe operation of injection wells. Under this program, the
visits in three states.                      Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the states require producers to obtain
                                             permits for their injection wells by, among other things, meeting technical
What GAO Recommends                          standards for constructing, operating, and testing and monitoring the wells. EPA
                                             also regulates the management of produced water through surface discharges
GAO is not making any
                                             under the Clean Water Act. Other management practices, such as disposal of the
recommendations. A draft was
                                             water into surface impoundments, irrigation, and the reuse of the water for
provided to the Departments of Energy
and the Interior, and EPA for review.        hydraulic fracturing, are regulated by state authorities.
None of these agencies provided              Several federal agencies, including EPA; the Department of Interior’s Bureau of
written comments. EPA and Interior           Reclamation and U.S. Geological Survey; and a number of Department of
provided technical comments, which           Energy national laboratories, have undertaken research and development efforts
we incorporated as appropriate.              related to produced water. These efforts have included sponsoring and issuing
                                             studies that describe the volume and quality of produced water, options for
                                             managing produced water and associated regulatory issues, as well as options
View GAO-12-156. For more information,       for improving existing technologies for treating produced water and developing
contact Anu Mittal or Frank Rusco at         new technologies, such as more cost-effective filters.
(202) 512-3841 or mittala@gao.gov or
ruscof@gao.gov.
                                                                                     United States Government Accountability Office
Contents


Letter                                                                                    1
               Background                                                                 4
               Oil and Gas Wells Generate a Significant Amount of Produced
                 Water, but the Volume and Quality of the Water Produced at a
                 Given Well Varies                                                        9
               A Number of Practices Are Available to Manage and Treat
                 Produced Water, with Cost Being the Primary Determining
                 Factor                                                                 14
               EPA and the States We Reviewed Regulate the Management of
                 Produced Water through a Variety of Means                              25
               Federal Research Efforts Have Focused on Describing the
                 Characteristics of and Uses for Produced Water, Management
                 Options, and Treatment Methods                                         29
               Agency Comments                                                          34

Appendix I     Scope and Methodology                                                     36



Appendix II    Listing of Ongoing and Completed Federal Produced Water Research
               Efforts Undertaken during the Last 10 Years                               38



Appendix III   GAO Contacts and Staff Acknowledgments                                    51



Table
               Table 1: Number of Injection Wells in Selected States                    17


Figures
               Figure 1: Geology of Gas Resources                                        6
               Figure 2: Injection Wells for Produced Water                             16




               Page i                                          GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Abbreviations
BLM          Bureau of Land Management
DOE          Department of Energy
EIA          Energy Information Administration
EPA          Environmental Protection Agency
NETL         National Energy Technology Laboratory
USGS         U.S. Geological Survey

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Page ii                                                   GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
United States Government Accountability Office
Washington, DC 20548




                                   January 9, 2012

                                   The Honorable Eddie Bernice Johnson
                                   Ranking Member
                                   Committee on Science, Space,
                                     and Technology
                                   House of Representatives

                                   Dear Ms. Johnson:

                                   The exploration for and production of oil and gas to meet our nation’s
                                   energy needs also results in the production of large quantities of water as
                                   a byproduct.1 This water, which is produced from wells during exploration
                                   and production, is known as “produced water.” Because produced water
                                   may contain a variety of contaminants, such as salts and minerals, it is
                                   often considered to be a waste stream that oil and gas producers must
                                   appropriately manage and treat before this water can be disposed of. If it
                                   is not appropriately managed or treated, the contaminants present in
                                   produced water discharged from oil and gas operations may threaten
                                   human health and the environment.

                                   Oil and gas—known as hydrocarbons—are found in a variety of geologic
                                   formations. Oil can be found in deep, porous rock or reservoirs that can
                                   flow under natural pressure to the surface after drilling, as well as other
                                   geologic formations, including shale and oil sands, in which other
                                   processes must be used to extract the oil, such as injecting liquid into the
                                   formation or applying heat or steam. Similarly, gas can be found in porous
                                   rock or reservoirs, in coal seams (known as coalbed methane), and in
                                   tighter geologic formations, including tight sands and shale formations.
                                   Extracting oil and gas from any of these reserves can result in produced
                                   water as a byproduct because water can exist naturally along with oil and
                                   gas in geologic formations (known as formation water) or it can be added
                                   to the well to stimulate oil and gas production (known as injected water).
                                   Formation water and injected water can return to the surface as produced
                                   water along with the oil or gas that is being extracted from the well. In




                                   1
                                    Most of the balance of the nation’s energy is supplied by coal, nuclear power, and
                                   hydropower and renewable resources.




                                   Page 1                                                    GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
other circumstances, such as when oil and gas are extracted from certain
shale formations, water, sand, and chemicals are injected at high
pressure to create fractures in the formation—a process known as
hydraulic fracturing—thereby allowing the oil or gas to flow easier and be
brought to the surface. 2 Some of this mix of water, sand, and chemicals
returns to the surface when production starts (this type of produced water
is known as flowback water). Over time, the quantity of produced
flowback water generally diminishes, but smaller amounts of water will
continue to be produced from the well.

Because of the inextricable link between energy production and water,
you asked us to undertake a series of studies reviewing the energy-water
nexus. 3 This is the fifth and final study in this series and provides
information on (1) what is known about the volume and quality of
produced water from oil and gas production; (2) what practices are
generally used to manage and treat produced water, and what factors are
considered in the selection of each; (3) how the management of produced
water is regulated at the federal level and in selected states; and (4) what
federal research and development efforts have been undertaken during
the last 10 years related to produced water.

While oil and gas production comes from onshore and offshore
operations, the focus of this review is onshore because produced water
from onshore sources has the potential to affect surface and groundwater
quality, and a greater variety of practices are employed to manage
produced water. To address these objectives, we conducted a literature
review of studies and other documents on produced water quality and
volume, management, and regulations issued by federal agencies and
laboratories, state agencies, the oil and gas industry, and academic
institutions. These documents included peer-reviewed scientific and


2
 Ceramic beads are sometimes used in lieu of sand when hydraulically fracturing a well.
Both are used to prevent the fractures from closing when the injection has stopped.
3
 GAO, Energy-Water Nexus: Improvements to Federal Water Use Data Would Increase
Understanding of Trends in Power Plant Water Use, GAO-10-23 (Washington, D.C.: Oct.
16, 2009); Energy-Water Nexus: Many Uncertainties Remain about National and Regional
Effects of Increased Biofuel Production on Water Resources, GAO-10-116 (Washington,
D.C.: Nov. 30, 2009); Energy-Water Nexus: A Better and Coordinated Understanding of
Water Resources Could Help Mitigate the Impacts of Potential Oil Shale Development,
GAO-11-35 (Washington, D.C.: Oct. 29, 2010); Energy-Water Nexus: Amount of Energy
Needed to Supply, Use, and Treat Water Is Location-Specific and Can Be Reduced by
Certain Technologies and Approaches, GAO-11-225 (Washington, D.C.: Mar. 23, 2011).




Page 2                                                   GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
industry periodicals, government-sponsored research, and reports from
nongovernmental research organizations. We believe we have included
the key studies and have qualified our findings, where appropriate.
However, it is possible that we may not have identified all of the studies
with findings relevant to our objectives.

In addition, we interviewed stakeholders such as federal and state
regulatory officials; federal scientists from the Environmental Protection
Agency’s (EPA) Office of Research and Development and the
Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos
National Laboratory, National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL),
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories;
officials from oil and gas exploration and production companies; officials
from water treatment companies; and other experts with experience
related to produced water. The federal and state regulatory officials
included those with responsibility over oil and gas regulation, as well as
clean water and drinking water regulation. We focused our review of
management techniques and produced water regulation on nine states—
California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma,
Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming. These states account for nearly 90
percent of produced water generated.

We supplemented our literature review and stakeholder discussions with
site visits to selected locations in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming,
where we met with oil and gas producers and officials from produced
water treatment facilities and discussed issues related to produced water
management and treatment and the factors that influence these
decisions. We selected these states because of the current and potential
volumes of produced water generated, the range of hydrocarbons
produced, and the different management and treatment practices
employed. We also visited hydraulic fracturing drilling operations,
underground injection control well sites, and a number of different
treatment facilities employing a variety of technologies. To determine
what federal research and development efforts have been undertaken
during the last 10 years related to produced water, we analyzed
information supplied by and conducted interviews with federal officials
from DOE and select national laboratories, EPA, and the Department of
the Interior’s U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Bureau of Land
Management (BLM), and Bureau of Reclamation.

We conducted this performance audit from October 2010 to January
2012, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to


Page 3                                           GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
             obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
             our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
             that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
             and conclusions based on our audit objectives.


             The domestic production of oil and gas is essential to the nation’s energy
Background   portfolio. According to DOE’s Energy Information Administration (EIA), the
             United States consumed approximately 6.7 billion barrels of oil and 24
             trillion cubic feet of gas in 2010. Together, oil and gas production supply
             over 60 percent of the nation’s total energy demand, and demand is
             expected to grow in the future. While domestic drilling for oil and gas can
             present risks to the environment, it also results in the creation of jobs and
             economic growth, as well as payments to the government in the form of
             royalties. 4

             The U.S. oil and gas reserves located onshore are extensive, with proven
             onshore oil reserves of approximately 18 billion barrels and proven
             onshore gas reserves of approximately 271 trillion cubic feet as of
             December 2009, according to the EIA. 5 These reserves are located
             across the country, primarily in 31 key oil- and gas-producing states, and
             include a range of different types of hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons
             include both conventional and unconventional oil and gas sources.
             Although there is no clear and consistently agreed upon distinction
             between conventional and unconventional oil and gas, conventional
             sources of oil and gas are generally produced using traditional methods
             of drilling and pumping, whereas unconventional oil and gas sources
             generally require more complex and expensive technologies for
             production. For example, in some instances heavy oils produced using
             steam injection are considered unconventional, while in other situations
             they are considered conventional. For this reason, in this report we
             generally do not distinguish between conventional and unconventional oil



             4
              The federal government issues leases for federal lands and waters to oil and gas
             operators who in turn pay royalties to the government on the oil and gas they produce.
             These royalty payments totaled approximately $9 billion in 2009.
             5
              Proven, or proved, reserves are defined as oil and gas that geological and engineering
             data demonstrate with reasonable certainty to be recoverable in future years from known
             reservoirs under existing economic and operating conditions. While the United States also
             has extensive offshore oil and gas reserves, the focus of this report is limited to onshore
             oil and gas production.




             Page 4                                                    GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
and gas except in instances when supporting documentation or
information we use from other sources makes this distinction necessary;
in such cases, we provide the relevant definition in a footnote. 6

Oil and gas is found within underground layers of rock referred to as
formations. The geologic characteristics of the formations in which the
various hydrocarbons are found vary widely, along with the characteristics
of the hydrocarbons themselves. For example, shale oil and gas
formations are generally tighter and much less permeable than other
formations, causing the oil and gas to be much less free flowing. Coalbed
methane formations, located at shallow depths of 1,000 to 2,000 feet, are
more permeable formations through which gas can flow more freely than
through shale formations. In addition, heavy oil, due to its higher viscosity,
has much less ability to flow freely through a formation compared to
lighter oil. 7 Figure 1 below provides examples of differing geologies for
various gas hydrocarbons.




6
 This report includes oil and gas currently produced onshore in the United States. It
excludes some kinds of oil production from shale formations that are not generally being
produced commercially at the current time, as well as oil sands, which are primarily
produced in Canada.
7
Viscosity is a measure of the resistance of a fluid to flow.




Page 5                                                         GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Figure 1: Geology of Gas Resources




Note: “Associated gas” is gas that accumulates in conjunction with oil in a formation. “Non-associated
gas” is gas that accumulates separately from oil in a formation.


As a result of these geologic differences, the methods used to produce
hydrocarbons vary widely. Some oil and gas can be produced by drilling a
well and relying on the natural pressure in the formation to push the oil or
gas to the surface. Heavy oil, on the other hand, may require the injection
of an additive such as steam into the formation to stimulate the flow of
oil—a process known as enhanced recovery. Similarly, some
hydrocarbons are produced through the use of hydraulic fracturing.
Hydraulic fracturing involves the injection of liquid under pressure to
fracture the rock formation and to prop open the fractures to allow
hydrocarbons to flow more freely from the formation into the well for
collection. The liquids used in this process consist primarily of water, but
also include chemicals, as well as sand or other propping agents for
holding open the fractures (proppant). Hydraulic fracturing is commonly
used to facilitate the production of many hydrocarbons, including oil,
shale gas, tight gas, and coalbed methane. Recent improvements in
hydraulic fracturing, combined with horizontal drilling technologies, have
prompted a boom in shale oil and gas production.

The process of producing oil and gas is complicated and yields several
byproducts that must be managed as part of the oil and gas operation’s
waste stream. Key among these byproducts is the produced water that



Page 6                                                           GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
comes to the surface along with the oil or gas during production.
Produced water may include water that occurs naturally in the formation,
water or other liquids that were injected into the formation to enhance
recovery during the drilling or production process, and flowback water,
which is the water, proppants, and chemicals used for hydraulic fracturing
(fracturing fluids).

EPA regulates water primarily through two federal laws: the Safe Drinking
Water Act and the Clean Water Act. The Safe Drinking Water Act was
originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by ensuring
a safe drinking water supply. 8 Under the act, EPA is authorized to set
standards for both naturally-occurring and man-made contaminants that
may be found in drinking water. The Safe Drinking Water Act also
regulates the placement of wastewater and other fluids underground
through the Underground Injection Control program. This program
provides safeguards to ensure that wastewater injected underground
does not endanger drinking water supplies. There are six classes or
categories of wells regulated through the Underground Injection Control
program. For example, class II wells are for the management of fluids
associated with oil and gas production, and they include wells used to
dispose of wastewater and those used to enhance oil and gas
production. 9 EPA may grant, or approve by rule, primary enforcement
authority for the Underground Injection Control program to a state, which
means that the state assumes responsibility for executing the program,
including permitting, monitoring, and enforcement for operations within
the state. To be approved for this authority, state programs must be at
least as stringent as the federal program and show that their regulations
contain effective minimum requirements. To obtain this authority over
class II wells only, states with existing oil and gas programs may make an
optional demonstration that their program is effective in protecting
underground sources of drinking water.




8
 Pub. L. No. 93-523 (1974), codified as amended at 42 U.S.C. §§ 300f–300j-26.
9
 The other classes of Underground Injection Control program wells are as follows: class I
wells are used for the disposal of hazardous and certain nonhazardous waste; class III
wells are used to inject fluids for mineral extraction; class IV wells are used to dispose of
hazardous or radioactive wastes, into or above an underground source of drinking water;
class V wells are used to dispose of other nonhazardous wastes; and class VI wells are
used for carbon sequestration. Class IV wells are currently banned.




Page 7                                                      GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
The Clean Water Act was enacted by Congress in 1972 to protect surface
waters by regulating discharges of pollutants into those waters. 10
Pursuant to the water-quality-based pollution control program mandated
by the act, states establish and EPA approves water quality standards for
contaminants in surface waters. The Clean Water Act also regulates the
discharge of wastewaters, including produced water, through the National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program, which requires
all facilities that discharge pollutants from any point source into surface
waters to be permitted. 11 EPA may delegate primary enforcement
authority to a state for this program if a state demonstrates that its
program requirements are as stringent as those set by EPA. Once EPA
delegates this authority, the state is responsible for permitting, monitoring,
and enforcing these permits.

Oil and gas producers who would like to drill on federal lands managed by
BLM must also obtain permits from BLM. The Federal Land Policy and
Management Act of 1976 requires BLM to develop resource management
plans, which, among other things, identify parcels of federal land that will
be available for oil and gas development and leasing. Producers who
have obtained a lease from BLM for oil and gas production on public
lands must submit an application to BLM for a permit to drill before
beginning to prepare the land or drilling any new oil or gas wells. The
complete permit application package must include, among other things, a
reclamation plan that details the steps operators propose to take to
reclaim the site, including redistribution of topsoil, configuring the
reshaped topography, and seeding or other steps to re-establish
vegetation. In some circumstances, approval from state officials may also
be required before operators can begin drilling and production.




10
  The Federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972, Pub. L. No. 92-500, § 2,
86 Stat. 816, codified as amended at 33 U.S.C. § 1251 et seq. (commonly referred to as
the Clean Water Act).
11
  Surface waters refer to navigable waters, tributaries to navigable waters, interstate
waters, the oceans out to 200 miles, and intrastate waters that are used by interstate
travelers, for recreation or other purposes, as a source of fish or shellfish sold in interstate
commerce, or for industrial purposes by industries engaged in interstate commerce. Point
sources are wastes discharged from discrete sources such as pipes. The Clean Water Act
defines point source as “any discernible, confined and discrete conveyance, including but
not limited to any pipe, ditch, channel, tunnel, conduit, well, discrete fissure…or vessel or
other floating craft from which pollutants are or may be discharged.”




Page 8                                                       GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                           In addition to obtaining permits for underground injection, discharge, and
                           drilling, oil and gas producers may also be required to obtain permits from
                           state or regional authorities to withdraw water from a river basin or
                           underground. For example, producers in the Susquehanna River Basin
                           must obtain a permit from the Basin Commission to withdraw surface
                           water or groundwater. This water may be blended with recycled or
                           produced water and used for hydraulic fracturing. Alternately, producers
                           in Colorado and Wyoming must obtain groundwater permits from their
                           State Engineer’s Office to drill for coalbed methane. State officials
                           consider the drilling to be a beneficial use of water since producers must
                           withdraw water from underground to obtain the gas and this classification
                           means a permit is required.


                           A significant amount of water is produced daily as a byproduct from
Oil and Gas Wells          onshore drilling of oil and gas, but the volume produced by a given well
Generate a Significant     will vary depending on the type of hydrocarbon being produced, the
                           geographic location of the well, and the method of production used.
Amount of Produced         Overall, most produced water is of poor quality and cannot be used for
Water, but the Volume      other purposes without prior treatment; however, produced water quality
and Quality of the         can also vary greatly depending on the hydrocarbon, geography, and
                           production method.
Water Produced at a
Given Well Varies

Millions of Barrels of     An estimated 56 million barrels of produced water are generated every
Produced Water Are         day as a byproduct of onshore oil and gas production in the United
Generated Daily, but the   States. This estimate is based on an Argonne National Laboratory study
                           of produced water volumes generated during 2007—the most recent year
Volume Produced at a       for which such data were collected—and was derived from data collected
Given Well Is Dependent    from state agencies in 31 oil- and gas-producing states. 12 The study is
on Several Factors         considered by agency officials, researchers, and other experts with whom
                           we spoke to be the most comprehensive and accurate assessment of
                           produced water volumes to date. However, because the Argonne study is
                           based on limited and, in some cases, incomplete data, it likely
                           underestimates the current total volume of produced water being



                           12
                             Argonne National Laboratory, Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices in
                           the United States, ANL/EVS/R-09/1 (Argonne, Ill.: September 2009).




                           Page 9                                               GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
generated by oil and gas operations today. Specifically, we noted the
following limitations in the Argonne estimate:

•     The reporting time frame for the study largely occurred prior to the
      recent, dramatic increase in shale gas production in the United States,
      which had an average annual growth rate of 48 percent from 2006 to
      2010, according to the EIA. In 2010, EIA had estimated that shale gas
      accounted for approximately 23 percent of all gas production in the
      United States.

•     The study is based on state data that were collected and maintained
      using a variety of methods, making them difficult to compare and
      aggregate at a national level. For example, in some states, producers
      are required to report produced water volumes as measured by flow
      meters, whereas in other states, producers are required to estimate
      produced water volumes using a method of their choosing, which may
      limit the precision of the data. Furthermore, in other states, producers
      are only required to report produced water volumes they dispose of in
      injection wells, which may not reflect the total produced water
      generated. Lastly, some states do not collect data on produced water
      volumes at all. In such cases, Argonne generated estimates of
      produced water volumes based on available information on oil and gas
      production in the state and made certain assumptions about water
      volumes based on produced water data from neighboring states.

Although the Argonne study clearly demonstrates that a large amount of
produced water is generated daily, the volume generated by a specific oil
and gas well can vary significantly according to three key factors: the type
of hydrocarbon being produced, the geographic location of the well, and
the method of production used. First, according to literature we reviewed
and stakeholders we spoke with, the type of hydrocarbon influences not
only how much water a well generates, but also when the water is
produced over the life of the well. This is because the geological
formations for different hydrocarbons have different attributes, thus
influencing the amount of water that is produced from a particular well.
For example, coalbed methane wells produce large volumes of water in
the early stages of production, because coal beds are essentially aquifers
that contain coal rock and gas bound together from the pressure of the
water present in the aquifer. 13 By pumping out water, the resulting drop in


13
    An aquifer is a natural underground layer, often of sand or gravel, that contains water.




Page 10                                                      GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
pressure allows the gas to detach from the coal and flow to the surface. In
contrast, one producer noted that their conventional gas wells produce
much less water than their coalbed methane wells because the
formations from which conventional gas is drawn contain much less
water. 14 Oil wells, on the other hand, typically generate less water during
the first years of production, when formation pressure is high enough to
allow the oil to flow freely to the surface. As these oil wells age, however,
water volumes increase, as oil taken out is displaced by water flowing in
from the surrounding formation. One producer that we spoke with noted
that their older oil fields produce more than five times the volume of water
produced by their younger oil fields.

Second, according to the literature we reviewed and stakeholders we
spoke with, the geographic location of a well also influences the volume
of produced water it generates, due to differences in geology. For
example, stakeholders noted that the Barnett Shale formation in Texas is
generally known to be a “wetter” formation than the Marcellus Shale
formation in the Northeast, with shale gas wells in the Barnett typically
producing three to four times more water than shale gas wells in the
Marcellus. Similarly, USGS reported that coalbed methane wells in the
Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana produce, on average, 16
times more water than coalbed methane wells in the San Juan Basin in
Colorado and New Mexico. In addition, produced water volumes can vary
among wells in close proximity with one another. For example, at one site
we visited in Wyoming, some gas wells were producing two to three times
more water than other gas wells in the same field, for reasons that were,
in general, not clear to the operator of those wells.

Lastly, the method of production used to extract oil and gas also
influences the volume of water generated, according to the literature we
reviewed and stakeholders we spoke with. Specifically, stakeholders
reported that methods of production that rely on the injection of water and
other fluids into the formation in order to stimulate oil and gas production
can generate more produced water than in cases in which oil and gas
comes to the surface under existing pressure. For example, one
stakeholder reported that the use of enhanced oil recovery methods such
as steam injection can generate eight to nine barrels of water for every



14
  In this example, conventional gas well is used to refer to formations typically consisting
of porous sandstone that can be produced using traditional drilling methods.




Page 11                                                     GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                             barrel of oil produced. At one enhanced oil recovery field we visited,
                             produced water comprised more than 95 percent of the total liquids
                             produced, with oil comprising the remainder. Similarly, the use of
                             hydraulic fracturing to produce oil or gas can result in larger volumes of
                             produced water than production in more porous formations, although the
                             larger volumes associated with hydraulic fracturing are limited to the initial
                             flowback of water and fracturing fluids. For example, with shale gas
                             production, stakeholders reported that flowback volumes can range from
                             approximately 10,000 to 60,000 barrels per well for each hydraulic
                             fracture. 15 However, once the initial flowback ceases, the volume of water
                             produced by shale gas production may be relatively small, sometimes
                             decreasing to just a few barrels per day.


Produced Water Is            The quality of produced water from oil and gas production is generally
Generally of Poor Quality,   poor, and in most situations, it cannot be readily used for other purposes
with the Levels of           without prior treatment. According to the literature we reviewed and
                             stakeholders we spoke with, produced water may contain a wide range of
Contaminants Varying         contaminants in varying amounts. Most of the contaminants occur
Widely                       naturally in the produced water, but some are added through the process
                             of drilling, hydraulic fracturing, and pumping oil and gas. The range of
                             contaminants found in produced water can include, but is not limited to

                             •     salts, which include chlorides, bromides, and sulfides of calcium,
                                   magnesium, and sodium;

                             •     metals, which include barium, manganese, iron, and strontium, among
                                   others;

                             •     oil, grease, and dissolved organics, which include benzene and
                                   toluene, among others;

                             •     naturally occurring radioactive materials; and

                             •     production chemicals, which may include friction reducers to help with
                                   water flow, biocides to prevent growth of microorganisms, and
                                   additives to prevent corrosion, among others.




                             15
                                 An individual shale gas well is typically fractured between 10 and 16 times.




                             Page 12                                                      GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Exposure to these contaminants at high levels may pose risks to human
health and the environment. For example, according to EPA, a potential
human health risk from exposure to high levels of barium is increased
blood pressure, and potential human health risks from exposure to high
levels of benzene are anemia and increased risk of cancer. From an
environmental standpoint, research indicated that elevated levels of salts
can inhibit crop growth by hindering a plant’s ability to absorb water from
the soil. Additionally, exposure to elevated levels of metals and
production chemicals, such as biocides, can contribute to increased
mortality among livestock and wildlife.

The specific quality of water generated by a given well, however, can vary
widely according to the same three factors that impact the volume of
water produced from the well: the hydrocarbon being produced, the
geographic location of the well, and method of production used. First,
according to stakeholders we spoke with, the type of hydrocarbon is a key
driver of produced water quality, due to differences in geology across the
formations in which the hydrocarbons are found. Specifically, the depth at
which the hydrocarbons are found influences the salt and mineral content
of produced water, and, in general, the deeper the formation is, the higher
the salt and mineral content will be. For example, produced water from
shale gas wells drilled at depths generally ranging from 5,000 to 8,000
feet have salt and mineral levels 20 times higher than produced water
from coalbed methane wells drilled at depths of 1,000 to 2,000 feet.
Additionally, the amount of oil or gas that is mixed in with the produced
water brought to the surface can also vary. For example, produced water
typically blends more easily with oil than with gas. As a result, produced
water from oil wells generally contains levels of oil, grease, and other
organic compounds that are four to five times higher than water from gas
wells.

Second, the quality of produced water also varies depending on the well’s
geographic location, also because of differences in geology. For example,
producers we spoke with said that produced water from wells in the
Marcellus Shale formation in the Northeast has higher levels of
radionuclides than water from shale gas wells in the Barnett Shale
formation in Texas. Similarly, according to research, produced water from
coalbed methane wells in the Raton Basin in Colorado and New Mexico
has a salt content, on average, roughly two and a half times higher than
produced water from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming and Montana.
In addition, produced water quality can vary within a given region,
according to producers we spoke with. For example, some coalbed
methane wells in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming contain barium


Page 13                                          GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                      levels five to six times higher than the barium levels found in wells less
                      than 50 miles away. Additionally, produced water from wells in one oil
                      field in California contains levels of boron four to five times higher than
                      produced water from oil wells in neighboring fields.

                      Lastly, the method of production can affect the quality of the water
                      produced. These differences are largely attributable to the chemicals and
                      other substances added during drilling or production processes, according
                      to stakeholders we spoke with. Specifically, methods of production that rely
                      on hydraulic fracturing or enhanced recovery methods can result in poorer
                      quality produced water than other methods. For example, according to
                      stakeholders, the range of chemicals, sand, and water that are added to
                      facilitate the hydraulic fracturing process can lower the overall quality of the
                      produced water from these kinds of operations. Similarly, the use of
                      chemicals during enhanced recovery can also affect the quality of water
                      produced. Stakeholders noted that enhanced recovery involves the
                      addition of production chemicals such as biocides, corrosion inhibitors, and
                      friction reducers, along with steam or carbon dioxide. For example, one
                      stakeholder estimated that wells produced using these enhanced recovery
                      methods can yield produced water with levels of some production
                      chemicals three to four times higher than produced water from wells that do
                      not use enhanced recovery techniques.


                      Oil and gas producers have a number of options on how to manage
A Number of           produced water, but underground injection is the predominant practice. In
Practices Are         addition to underground injection, a limited amount of produced water is
                      managed by discharging it to surface water, storing it in surface
Available to Manage   impoundments, and reusing it for irrigation or hydraulic fracturing. With
and Treat Produced    regard to treatment options, most produced water is minimally treated,
Water, with Cost      although more advanced treatment methods are available if the end use
                      of the water requires a higher level of treatment. Ultimately, cost is the
Being the Primary     primary driver in producers’ decisions about how to manage and treat
Determining Factor    produced water generated by oil and gas producers.




                      Page 14                                            GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Produced Water Can Be      Over 90 percent of the water produced during oil and gas operations is
Managed in a Number of     managed through underground injection practices; the remaining water is
Ways, although             generally discharged to surface water, stored in surface impoundments,
                           reused for irrigation, or reused for hydraulic fracturing. In its 2009 report, 16
Underground Injection Is
                           Argonne National Laboratory estimated, and EPA officials that we spoke
the Most Common Practice   with concurred, that most produced water is managed by injecting it
                           underground into wells that are designated to receive this water. 17 These
                           wells, known as injection wells, must be constructed to protect
                           underground sources of drinking water, and they are tested and
                           monitored periodically to ensure no drinking water is being contaminated
                           by well operations (see fig. 2). Injection wells can be used for enhanced
                           recovery or permanent disposal of the water. When producers reuse
                           produced water for enhanced recovery, they inject it into wells in the
                           same producing formation to recover additional oil and, in limited
                           applications, gas, thus prolonging the life of the production well. Some of
                           this water will come back up as produced water in subsequent well
                           operations. When producers inject produced water for permanent
                           disposal into an underground formation, they inject it into wells in the
                           same formation or a formation that is similar to the one the produced
                           water was extracted from.




                           16
                             Argonne National Laboratory, Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices in
                           the United States.
                           17
                             Argonne National Laboratory reported that more than 98 percent of produced water
                           generated from onshore oil and gas wells in 2007 was injected underground. EPA officials
                           we spoke with estimated that over 90 percent of produced water generated from onshore
                           wells is still injected underground but could not provide a precise figure for current
                           volumes.




                           Page 15                                                 GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Figure 2: Injection Wells for Produced Water




Page 16                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
According to EPA records, in 2010 there were 150,855 injection wells
authorized for the injection of fluids brought to the surface during oil and
gas production, including produced water, although EPA officials told us
that not all are currently operating. 18 About four-fifths of the wells—
124,837—are located in the nine states we reviewed (see table 1).

Table 1: Number of Injection Wells in Selected States

 State                                                           Number of injection wells
 Texas                                                                                52,016
 California                                                                           29,505
 Kansas                                                                               16,658
 Oklahoma                                                                             10,629
 Wyoming                                                                               4,978
 New Mexico                                                                            4,585
 Louisiana                                                                             3,731
 Pennsylvania                                                                          1,861
 Colorado                                                                                874
 Total in selected states                                                            124,837
Source: GAO analysis of EPA data.



According to state regulators we interviewed in the nine states, underground
injection is common in most, but not all, of their states. Specifically,
regulators in five states told us that all or almost all of the produced water is
managed through underground injection, and in three other states, most of
the produced water is managed this way. In the ninth state—Pennsylvania—
many producers use underground injection for enhanced recovery, but the
practice is not widely used for disposal, according to EPA officials.19



18
  Although approximately 80 percent of these injection wells are used for enhanced
recovery and the remaining 20 percent are used for disposal, only about 59 percent of
produced water is injected into these wells for enhanced recovery, and about 40 percent is
injected for disposal.
19
  According to EPA officials, there are currently only six active injection wells for produced
water disposal in Pennsylvania. As a result, producers that want to dispose of produced
water through underground injection would generally have to transport the water to
authorized injection wells in Ohio or West Virginia, and trucking can be expensive.
However, EPA officials we interviewed said that in the past 2 years producers have shown
interest in drilling additional injection wells for disposal in Pennsylvania, and EPA has
received permit applications for new wells.




Page 17                                                     GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Produced water that is not injected into underground injection wells is
disposed of or reused by producers in other ways, including the
following. 20

Discharge to surface water. According to Argonne National Laboratory’s
report, less than 1 percent of produced water generated from onshore oil
and gas operations in 2007 was managed by discharging it to surface
water. 21 Surface discharges of produced water directly from oil and gas
production sites are prohibited in much of the United States, but produced
water may be discharged from an off-site treatment facility. 22 According to
Argonne’s report, discharges of produced water to surface water are
primarily limited to the western United States and generally occur only
when the salt content of the water is low. While a current national
estimate of this practice is not available, EPA officials and regulators in
seven of the nine states we reviewed told us that surface discharges of
produced water are limited or are nonexistent in their states. For example,
officials we spoke with from Colorado said that a very small portion of the
produced water generated in that state is discharged to surface water and
only 24 of the approximately 9,900 discharge permits they have issued
are for oil and gas producers. Among the states we reviewed, Wyoming
and Pennsylvania were the only two where producers commonly use
surface discharges to manage produced water. 23 For example, an oil
producer we spoke with in Wyoming told us his company discharges a
small portion of the produced water from some of its fields directly to a
nearby creek because the water quality is high enough to meet the state’s
discharge limits without prior treatment; however, the majority of the water
generated from these fields has a much higher salt concentration and
cannot be discharged into surface waters.


20
  Other less commonly used management practices, such as reusing the produced water
in industrial settings for dust control or cooling water, may also be options for producers.
21
  Argonne National Laboratory, Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices in
the United States.
22
  There are limited exceptions to this prohibition. For example, produced water from
                                                              th
onshore oil and gas production sites located west of the 98 meridian that will be put to
beneficial use for agriculture or wildlife watering can be discharged directly from the
production site.
23
  Pennsylvania regulatory officials told us that almost all conventional oil and gas
producers use surface discharges to manage produced water, following treatment;
however, almost all shale gas producers in Pennsylvania stopped using this practice after
the state’s surface discharge standards were made more stringent in 2011.




Page 18                                                    GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Surface impoundment. Surface impoundments are lined or unlined ponds
used primarily to facilitate evaporation of produced water, and in the case
of unlined ponds, allow it to infiltrate into the ground. 24 According to
DOE’s NETL, drier climates are favorable for evaporation and spray
nozzles may be used to increase the rate of evaporation. The National
Research Council reported that, in 2008, surface impoundments were
used to manage about 64 percent of produced water generated by
coalbed methane producers in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River
Basin. 25 According to the report, the water was generally untreated, but in
some cases water was treated to meet requirements for discharging to
the impoundment. For example, a coalbed methane producer we visited
in Wyoming treats the produced water at a treatment facility to first
remove barium to meet state water quality standards, then disposes of
most of it in a surface impoundment, where it evaporates or infiltrates to
the subsurface. Officials we spoke with from California, Colorado, and
New Mexico also said that surface impoundments are used to manage
produced water in those states, but it is not a significant practice in any of
them.

Irrigation. Some produced water from coalbed methane is reused for
irrigation in certain parts of Wyoming and Colorado because the water is
generally of high enough quality that it does not require extensive
treatment in order to avoid damage to the crops or soil. According to the
National Research Council, 26 about 13 percent of the produced water
generated from coalbed methane producers in Wyoming’s Powder River
Basin was reused for managed irrigation or subsurface drip irrigation. 27
For example, a coalbed methane production operation we visited in
Wyoming disposes of almost all of its produced water from the Powder
River Basin using a managed irrigation system, following minimal


24
  Surface impoundments are also used for the temporary storage of produced water prior
to managing it in some other way.
25
  National Research Council, Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Produced
Water in the Western United States (Washington, D.C.: 2010).
26
  National Research Council, Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Produced
Water in the Western United States.
27
  Managed irrigation combines irrigation using produced water with preventative or
intervention soil management, such as the addition of gypsum and elemental sulfur to
improve the soil structure. Managed irrigation is necessary to prevent substantial
deterioration of the soil structure caused by the salts and sodium present in produced
water.




Page 19                                                   GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
treatment of the water. Because its wells produce more water than can be
disposed of under its surface discharge permit, it is a fairly economical
option, and is allowable under state regulations. While there are
examples of irrigation with produced water occurring elsewhere, it is not a
widely used management practice. According to NETL, a significant
challenge to using produced water for irrigation is the salt content of the
water, which can decrease crop yields and damage the soil. In addition,
the National Research Council reported that while reusing coalbed
methane produced water for beneficial purposes such as irrigation would
seem to be a desirable and relatively easy objective, in reality it is
potentially economically and environmentally burdensome, complex, and
challenging. The suitability of water for irrigation depends on a number of
factors including the type of crops grown, the soil type, irrigation methods,
and the types and quantity of salts dissolved in the water. In addition, the
reliability of the produced water supply over time, proximity to the
irrigation site, and costs also present challenges.

Hydraulic fracturing. In recent years, some shale gas producers have
begun reusing produced water for hydraulic fracturing of additional wells
at their operations. The water is typically treated first, either on-site or off-
site, and then mixed with freshwater if salt concentrations remain high.
Although no national estimate of producers’ use of this practice is
available, a 2009 report on shale gas development reported that interest
in this type of reuse for produced water was high. 28 However, the report
also noted that certain water treatment challenges needed to be
overcome to make this type of reuse more widespread. According to
NETL, in order for reuse of produced water to become widespread, low-
cost treatment technologies must be developed. In the last couple of
years, reusing produced water for hydraulic fracturing has become more
common among shale gas producers in Pennsylvania, according to state
regulators and producers we spoke with in the state. The shift was
motivated, in part, by a change in the state’s surface discharge standards
that ultimately made treatment and discharge a comparatively more
expensive practice. For example, one shale gas production site we visited
in Pennsylvania currently reuses all of its produced water for hydraulic
fracturing, although it had used other practices in the past. Other shale
gas producers in the state are also adopting this approach, according to



28
  Ground Water Protection Council and ALL Consulting, Modern Shale Gas Development
in the United States: A Primer (Oklahoma City, Okla.: April 2009).




Page 20                                              GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                          agency officials and an academic expert we spoke with. In addition,
                          regulators in five of the other states we reviewed told us that producers in
                          these states are reusing produced water for hydraulic fracturing, although
                          generally to a lesser extent than in Pennsylvania.


Most Produced Water Is    Because most produced water is managed through underground injection
Minimally Treated, but    wells, it is minimally treated; however, if produced water is going to be
More Advanced Treatment   reused or disposed of in some other manner, then more advanced
                          treatment methods are available, depending on the level of treatment
Methods Are Available     required.

                          Treatment methods for produced water managed through underground
                          injection. Produced water managed through underground injection
                          generally does not need to be treated because injection wells are
                          designed to confine the produced water to the receiving formation and
                          prevent it from migrating to underground sources of drinking water. In
                          some cases, however, to meet an injection well’s operating requirements
                          or prevent premature “plugging” of the formation, the water may be
                          treated to control excessive solids, dissolved oil, corrosion, chemical
                          reactions, or the growth of bacteria and other microbes, according to
                          NETL. Such treatment is generally minimal and can include storing the
                          water in a tank to allow solids to settle out and passing the water through
                          a screen or filter to remove additional solids. Chemicals may also be
                          added to prevent corrosion of the injection well equipment and filtration or
                          biocides may be used to prevent bacteria, algae, or fungi present in the
                          water from clogging equipment or encouraging corrosion.

                          Treatment methods for produced water reused for hydraulic fracturing.
                          Producers who reuse produced water for hydraulic fracturing told us they
                          treat the water to meet their own operating requirements. While producers
                          we spoke with said that they had previously treated the water to a very
                          high quality before reusing it for hydraulic fracturing, they are currently
                          experimenting with lower levels of treatment. For example, one producer
                          told us that 2 years ago his company treated the water so that it was
                          nearly as clean as freshwater, but based on internal research, the
                          company no longer removes salt from the produced water that it reuses
                          for hydraulic fracturing. This lower level of treatment has reduced
                          operating costs, and the producer is considering eliminating other
                          treatment steps as long as doing so will not cause operational problems,
                          such as equipment corrosion.




                          Page 21                                          GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Treatment methods for produced water discharged to surface water
bodies or reused for irrigation. If produced water is going to be discharged
to surface water or reused for irrigation, then treatment is often necessary
to reduce hardness, salts, and other contaminants, in addition to settling
and filtration methods to remove solids. Solids and hardness removal are
sometimes referred to as “pretreatment” steps. Hard water contains
dissolved constituents, mainly calcium and magnesium ions, which can
cause scaling of pipes and equipment. Hardness is typically removed
prior to removing salts by adjusting the pH of the water and adding
chemicals that cause dissolved calcium and magnesium to form small
solids, or precipitates, which then settle out or are filtered out of the water
with the aid of additional processes. 29 Alternatively, when produced water
is going to be reused for irrigation, calcium or magnesium may be added
to the water to address sodium levels. Treatment technologies, including
distillation, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange, are then used to remove
salt and other contaminants from produced water. 30 Distillation is a
treatment process that essentially boils produced water to evaporate and
then condense the clean water, leaving behind concentrated brine.
Reverse osmosis is a filtration process that forces water through a semi-
permeable membrane, allowing water to pass through but trapping salt on
the other side. Reverse osmosis generally requires a high level of
pretreatment to prevent fouling of the membranes, and it is only feasible
when salt concentrations in the produced water are less than
approximately 25,000 parts per million, according to a study by the
Colorado School of Mines. 31 For example, produced water from a gas
operation we visited in Wyoming had to first undergo pretreatment to
remove solids, hardness, and other contaminants before being put
through three stages of reverse osmosis. A third treatment technology,
ion exchange, selectively captures sodium ions from produced water and



29
  pH is a measure of how acidic or basic the water is. Excessively high or low pH can be
detrimental for the use of water.
30
   The ratio of sodium to calcium and magnesium ions in produced water is an important
property affecting the infiltration and permeability of the soil. The sodium adsorption ratio
is an index used to measure the hazard related to sodium abundance in the soil.
31
  Colorado School of Mines, An Integrated Framework for Treatment and Management of
Produced Water (Golden, Colo.: November 2009). The Colorado School of Mines also
reported that total dissolved solids (i.e., salt concentrations) in produced water from
conventional oil and gas in the western United States range from 1,000 to 400,000 parts
per million. Producers we interviewed in other parts of the United States told us total
dissolved solids in their produced water range from 40,000 to 300,000 parts per million.




Page 22                                                     GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                             replaces them with others. 32 The water is passed through a large bed of
                             resin beads and sodium ions are adsorbed to (i.e., concentrate on the
                             surface of) the resin. Similar to reverse osmosis, ion exchange faces
                             upper limits on salt concentrations of approximately 7,000 parts per
                             million, according to the Colorado School of Mines. 33 Each of the
                             technologies to remove salt typically generates concentrated brine, which
                             must then be properly disposed of as well.


Cost Is the Primary Factor   While a variety of factors influence how produced water is managed and
That Determines How          the level to which it is treated, cost is the primary factor that oil and gas
Produced Water Is            producers consider when making these decisions. According to producers
                             and agency officials we spoke with, how produced water is managed and
Managed and Treated          treated is primarily an economic decision, made within the bounds of
                             federal and state regulations. In most cases, underground injection is the
                             lowest-cost option and producers we spoke with said that their costs for
                             underground injection range from $0.07 to $1.60 per barrel of produced
                             water. 34 However, if a producer is not operating in close proximity to
                             injection wells, transporting the water via truck or pipeline can significantly
                             increase these costs. Furthermore, producers told us that trucking is one
                             of the most significant cost factors they face, and they seek to minimize
                             this cost by managing the water closer to the production site when
                             possible. For example, according to one producer, trucking costs in Texas
                             range from $0.50 to $1.00 per barrel because injection wells in the area
                             are plentiful, whereas costs in Pennsylvania range from $4.00 to $8.00
                             per barrel because injection wells are scarce, and the produced water
                             often must be transported out of state. As a result, once trucking is
                             factored in, underground injection may in fact become more costly than
                             other management practices.

                             Another significant component of cost is whether treatment will be
                             required as part of the management practice being employed. Treatment
                             costs depend heavily on the technologies used, which in turn depend on
                             the quality of the produced water being treated and the level of treatment


                             32
                               Ion exchange can also be used to remove hardness.
                             33
                               Colorado School of Mines, An Integrated Framework for Treatment and Management of
                             Produced Water.
                             34
                               The costs presented in this report generally do not include construction costs for the
                             injection well or treatment facility.




                             Page 23                                                    GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
needed for the disposal or reuse option being considered. For example,
there are a number of treatment methods to remove salt from produced
water, but each option has a different cost and differing level of
effectiveness. Distillation, while effective at removing salts, has
significantly higher costs, and representatives from water treatment
facilities and producers we spoke to said it can cost from $6.35 to $8.50
per barrel, on average. Reverse osmosis and ion exchange are less
costly treatment options for removing salt, but their use is limited by the
level of salt content they can remove from produced water, and reverse
osmosis can require extensive pretreatment, which can significantly drive
up costs. Producers we spoke with who use reverse osmosis and ion
exchange to treat produced water told us that their costs range from
$0.20 to $0.60 per barrel. In some cases, producers may be able to
change the management practice they use to minimize their treatment
costs. For example, state regulators told us that when more stringent
discharge limits were put into place in Pennsylvania, many shale gas
producers in the state stopped discharging produced water to the surface
and started to reuse it for hydraulic fracturing because the latter requires
a simpler, and less expensive, level of treatment.

In addition to cost, according to our review of the literature and
stakeholders we spoke with, produced water management decisions are
also influenced by a number of other factors including the following:

•   Poor water quality is a key reason most produced water is managed
    through underground injection, rather than reused or discharged to
    the surface. However, when water quality is relatively good, as some
    of it is in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming, management practices
    such as irrigation and infiltration from surface impoundments may
    become viable options. Nonetheless, adequate quantities of produced
    water are needed for irrigation to be a sustainable practice, and the
    water must be in close proximity to the land it will be used on or
    producers can face high transportation costs.

•   Proximity and region-specific factors, such as geology, also influence
    which management practices are feasible in a given area. For
    example, some oil and gas producers are not located in close
    proximity to injection wells, or the number of available wells is limited
    by the underlying geology of the area, and therefore producers must
    manage their produced water some other way. An oil producer we
    spoke to told us his company would prefer to manage all of its
    produced water through underground injection for enhanced recovery
    and disposal. However, opportunities for enhanced recovery at one of



Page 24                                           GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                               the producer’s sites are limited by its level of oil production and
                               disposal is constrained by the geology in the area. As a result, the
                               producer told us he manages about 20 percent of the produced water
                               from this site through treatment and discharge, which is significantly
                               more costly and technically challenging than underground injection.

                           •   Climate is also a factor in the decision-making process. Arid climates
                               are favorable for managing produced water using surface
                               impoundments for evaporation, and limited water supplies in certain
                               regions can motivate producers to make the water available for other
                               purposes, such as irrigation.

                           •   Regulatory requirements at the federal or state level can also
                               influence producers’ management decisions. As discussed earlier, the
                               changes in discharge limits in Pennsylvania led to a change in
                               management practices by shale gas producers in the state.

                           •   Producers’ risk management policies can also influence how they
                               manage the water. For example, regulators we spoke with from
                               California told us that liabilities associated with surface discharges and
                               impoundments are a driving factor in moving away from those practices
                               and toward underground injection. According to these regulators,
                               surface impoundments were commonly used in California to manage
                               produced water in the past, but in the last few years hundreds of them
                               have closed down and they are no longer widely used.


                           The management of produced water is regulated by EPA and the states
EPA and the States         we reviewed through a variety of means, depending on how the water is
We Reviewed                disposed of or reused. EPA regulates the management of produced water
                           that is injected underground under the Safe Drinking Water Act, while it
Regulate the               regulates the management of produced water that is discharged into
Management of              surface waters under the Clean Water Act. Other management practices,
Produced Water             such as disposal of the water into surface impoundments, irrigation, and
                           reuse of the water for hydraulic fracturing, are primarily regulated by the
through a Variety of       state authorities.
Means

Underground Injection Is   The management of produced water through underground injection is
Regulated under the Safe   subject to the Safe Drinking Water Act’s Underground Injection Control
Drinking Water Act         program. This program is designed to prevent contamination of aquifers
                           that supply, or could supply in the future, public water systems by


                           Page 25                                           GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
ensuring the safe operation of injection wells. Under this program, EPA or
authorized states generally require producers to obtain permits for their
injection wells by, among other things, meeting technical standards for
constructing, operating, and testing and monitoring wells. 35 Of the nine
states we reviewed, all but Pennsylvania have received approval authority
from EPA to implement this program for class II wells, including issuing
permits and conducting oversight. In most of these states, the agency that
oversees oil and gas activities is responsible for implementing this
program. Regardless of whether EPA or the state has authority for
implementing the program, EPA regional offices periodically review each
state’s program and require states to submit an annual report on program
activity, according to EPA officials from the regions we spoke with.

As part of the Underground Injection Control program, producers
generally must apply for a permit to drill an injection well and supply
information, including the location and depth of the proposed well.
Furthermore, once EPA or the state has issued an Underground Injection
Control permit, producers must observe and record the injection pressure,
flow rate, and cumulative volume each month and report this information
to the permitting agency annually. In addition, the injection well permit
also requires producers to conduct mechanical integrity tests on the wells
at least once every 5 years, although EPA and some states require
testing to be performed more often, according to officials we spoke with.
Officials at many of the state agencies we spoke with said that they
observe these tests in person to ensure that the well is mechanically
sound. According to officials in each of the eight states we contacted, the
state can levy penalties for noncompliance for violations ranging from a
failure to submit a report to exceeding the pressure permitted in the well.
Enforcement response to noncompliance can range from a warning letter
to a fine. EPA can commence a separate action for penalties if it believes
that a state’s imposition of penalties is insufficient, although EPA officials
we spoke with stated that this is rare.




35
  Certain existing injection wells were authorized by rule if the well was properly
inventoried within 1 year after the effective date of the applicable Underground Injection
Control program.




Page 26                                                    GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Discharge of Produced      The management of produced water through discharge into surface
Water Is Regulated under   waters is regulated under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant
the Clean Water Act        Discharge Elimination System. Under this program, all facilities that
                           discharge pollutants to surface waters must obtain a permit from EPA or
                           the designated state agency, which is generally the agency responsible
                           for environmental protection or quality. Permits can be tailored to
                           individual facilities or cover multiple facilities within a specific geographic
                           region. To obtain a permit, producers must complete an application that,
                           among other things, describes the waste that will be discharged, where
                           the discharge will take place, and the method of treatment or
                           containment, if applicable. Once the state or EPA has issued a permit,
                           producers must report any discharges, including the volume of effluent
                           and the amount of each pollutant specified in the permit, to the permitting
                           authority at least once per year. EPA has issued regulations establishing
                           Effluent Limitations Guidelines for some onshore oil and gas extraction
                           including shale gas, but these regulations do not apply to coalbed
                           methane extraction. 36

                           Of the nine states we reviewed, all but New Mexico have received
                           approval authority from EPA to implement this program for industrial and
                           municipal facilities. EPA requires states with approval authority to submit
                           annual reports on program activity in their state and conduct program
                           reviews every 2 to 5 years. Of these eight states, four—California,
                           Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming—have issued permits for the
                           discharge of produced water. This is in part because discharging
                           produced water directly from a production site is generally prohibited by
                           regulations implementing the Clean Water Act for locations east of the
                           98th meridian, which, in the United States, runs from near the eastern
                           border of North Dakota through the eastern portion of Texas, passing
                           near the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Discharge of produced water from an off-
                           site treatment plant, however, is allowed under the Clean Water Act
                           provided the treated water meets applicable water quality standards, and
                           some states have permitted this activity. For example, a commercial
                           water treatment facility we visited in Pennsylvania treats produced water
                           from shale gas to meet the state’s new, more stringent discharge limits



                           36
                             On October 20, 2011, EPA announced it is developing standards for wastewater
                           discharges produced by natural gas extraction from underground coalbed and shale
                           formations. No comprehensive set of national standards exists at this time for the disposal
                           of wastewater discharged from natural gas extraction activities. The agency plans to
                           propose wastewater rules for coalbed methane in 2013 and for shale gas in 2014.




                           Page 27                                                   GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                             and then releases it to a municipal sewer system. In addition, one
                             producer we spoke with in Wyoming told us his company takes some of
                             its produced water to a treatment facility, where it is treated with reverse
                             osmosis and then discharged to a ravine that flows into the Powder River.
                             The eight states that have approval authority to administer the discharge
                             program may levy penalties if they find producers are not complying with
                             their permit, or if they are discharging without a permit, according to
                             officials we spoke with. As with the Underground Injection Control
                             program, EPA may commence a separate action for penalties if it
                             believes a state’s penalty determination to be inadequate, but EPA
                             officials we spoke with stated that this is rare.


Other Management             The management of produced water through disposal into a surface
Practices Are Regulated by   impoundment or reuse for irrigation is regulated at the state level in the
State Authorities            four states we reviewed where producers employ these practices. For
                             example, the Oil and Gas Conservation Commissions in Colorado and
                             Wyoming are among the state regulatory agencies that allow for disposal
                             in surface impoundments; however, these states have set different
                             standards for the quality of the water that may be placed in the ponds. For
                             example, Colorado generally does not require these ponds to be lined,
                             while Wyoming requires any pond with a total dissolved solids level of
                             10,000 parts per million or more to be lined. In addition, Wyoming also
                             allows produced water to be used for irrigation or as water for livestock
                             with approval from the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

                             Some of the states we reviewed also regulate other practices to reuse
                             produced water. For example, regulations in Colorado, Pennsylvania, and
                             Wyoming allow for the application of produced water to roads in certain
                             circumstances. Specifically, Colorado regulations allow produced water to
                             be spread on roads as long as it meets certain requirements and is
                             authorized by the owner of the road. In addition, reuse of produced water
                             for hydraulic fracturing is regulated at the state level for some states. 37
                             Specifically, some states have regulations that apply to the temporary


                             37
                               In general, the process of hydraulic fracturing is not directly regulated at the federal level
                             at this time. Congress exempted most hydraulic fracturing activities from EPA’s jurisdiction
                             in the 2005 Energy Policy Act amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act; however, the
                             agency has authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing when diesel fuels are used in
                             fracturing fluids or propping agents. EPA is currently studying the impacts of hydraulic
                             fracturing and plans to issue an interim report on the potential impacts of hydraulic
                             fracturing on drinking water resources in 2012 and a final report in 2014.




                             Page 28                                                      GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                           storage of hydraulic fracturing fluids, including flowback water, on drilling
                           sites. For example, Oklahoma has recently adopted standards for the
                           construction, operation, location, and maintenance of noncommercial
                           ponds used for temporary storage of flowback water. In addition, some
                           states have begun to require producers to disclose the chemical
                           composition of their hydraulic fracturing fluids. Of the nine states we
                           reviewed, four states—Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming—
                           currently require this disclosure.


                           Over 100 federal research studies conducted during the last 10 years
Federal Research           have addressed various aspects of using, managing, and treating
Efforts Have Focused       produced water. Many federal research projects have focused on
                           describing the characteristics of produced water, such as the volume of
on Describing the          water produced from oil and gas activities and the quality of that water.
Characteristics of and     Other research efforts have focused on describing strategies producers
                           could use to manage produced water and the regulatory context for doing
Uses for Produced          so. Federal research also has focused on developing and describing new
Water, Management          and existing technologies for treating produced water. Appendix II of this
Options, and               report includes a compilation of the studies we identified.

Treatment Methods

Federal Research Efforts   Several federal agencies, including USGS, the Bureau of Reclamation, a
Have Examined the          number of DOE national laboratories, and EPA, have issued or
Characteristics of         sponsored studies describing the characteristics of produced water from
                           oil and gas operations––particularly the volume and quality of produced
Produced Water             water. For example, in 2009, USGS published a fact sheet that, among
                           other things, described water disposal issues associated with gas
                           production in the Marcellus Shale. 38 More recently, in 2010, USGS
                           published an article describing the quality of produced water from coalbed
                           methane production, and how untreated or partially treated produced
                           water from these operations may threaten fish and aquatic resources. 39
                           USGS also maintains a database that provides the location, geologic


                           38
                             Daniel J. Soeder and William M. Kappel, Water Resources and Natural Gas Production
                           from the Marcellus Shale, USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3032 (May 2009).
                           39
                             Aida M. Farag, David D. Harper, Anna Senecal, and Wayne A. Hubert, “Potential Effects
                           of Coalbed Natural Gas Development on Fish and Aquatic Resources,” chap. 11 in
                           Coalbed Natural Gas: Energy and Environment (Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2010).




                           Page 29                                                 GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
setting, and chemical composition of produced water samples from
locations throughout the United States.

The Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation participated in a
study published in 2008 that describes the quantity of produced water
generated and specific contaminants it contains from oil and gas
production in the western United States. 40 The study was designed to
assist producers and others in determining viability of this water for
beneficial reuse and for selecting appropriate treatment processes.

Several DOE national laboratories have also sponsored or published
research describing the volume and quality of produced water. Argonne
National Laboratory has published two studies—a 2004 study that
provided basic information about how much produced water is generated
and what contaminants are in it, 41 and a 2009 study that describes
produced water volumes and management practices in every oil- or gas-
producing state in the United States. 42 Oak Ridge National Laboratory
has conducted a number of produced water research studies designed to
characterize and evaluate the soluble organic compounds that
contaminate the water. In addition, NETL cosponsored several such
studies, including a 2003 project that provided information about
radioactive materials from hydrocarbon production in Mississippi. 43
Another NETL project, completed in 2005, provided a means by which
interested stakeholders could access a large quantity of produced water
chemistry data for New Mexico oil wells. 44 NETL is currently engaged in


40
 Katie L. Benko and Jörg E. Drewes, “Produced Water in the Western United States:
Geographical Distribution, Occurrence, and Composition,” Environmental Engineering
Science, vol. 25, no. 2 (2008):.239 – 246.
41
  John A. Veil, Markus G. Puder, Deborah Elcock, and Robert J. Redweik, Jr., Argonne
National Laboratory, A White Paper Describing Produced Water from Production of Crude
Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal Bed Methane (January 2004).
42
  Argonne National Laboratory, Produced Water Volumes and Management Practices in
the United States.
43
  Evaluations of Radionuclides of Uranium, Thorium, and Radium Associated with
Produced Fluids, Precipitates, and Sludges from Oil, Gas, and Oilfield Brine Injection
Wells in Mississippi, a study cosponsored by the National Energy Technology Laboratory,
2002-2003.
44
  NM WAIDS: A Produced-Water Quality and Infrastructure GIS Database for New Mexico
Oil Production, a study sponsored by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, project
start: 2002, project end: 2005.




Page 30                                                 GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                            two other projects. The first is designed to differentiate produced water
                            from surface water or shallow groundwater in the Marcellus shale area.
                            The other is a multiagency effort with industry, EPA, and USGS, among
                            others, to establish baseline water quality data at a Marcellus drilling site
                            that will be monitored 1 year prior to development and compared to data
                            acquired for 1 year after production begins.

                            Finally, EPA’s Office of Research and Development initiated a study in
                            January 2010 to examine the potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on
                            drinking water resources and the quality of flowback and produced water.
                            The study plan is currently being reviewed by EPA’s Science Advisory
                            Board, and the agency anticipates issuing an interim report on the
                            potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources in
                            2012 and a final report in 2014.


Federal Research Has        Federal research has also focused on providing information about options
Examined Options for        producers can use to manage their produced water and the regulations
Managing Produced Water     they must follow in doing so. For example, the Energy Policy Act of 2005
                            mandated that the Department of the Interior, in consultation with EPA,
and Associated Regulatory   engage the National Academy of Sciences to conduct a study on the effect
Issues                      of coalbed methane production on surface and groundwater resources in
                            selected northern and western states. The study was issued in 2010. 45
                            Several DOE laboratories have also conducted studies or partnered with
                            industry, universities, and other labs to provide information about managing
                            produced water and associated regulations. For example, in May 2009,
                            NETL, in cooperation with the Ground Water Protection Council, published
                            a report summarizing produced-water-related regulations enacted by states
                            for the purpose of protecting water resources. 46 NETL is also currently
                            partnered with Clemson University and Chevron to study the efficacy of
                            constructing wetlands to provide a low-cost, effective technology for the
                            treatment and potential reuse of produced water. In addition, NETL has
                            partnered with other DOE laboratories to conduct research on
                            management of produced water. For example, from 2001 through 2004,



                            45
                              National Research Council, Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Produced
                            Water in the Western United States.
                            46
                              Ground Water Protection Council, State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations Designed to
                            Protect Water Resources, a report funded by the Department of Energy and prepared for
                            the National Energy Technology Laboratory, May 2009.




                            Page 31                                                GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
NETL collaborated with Idaho National Laboratory and others to analyze
coalbed methane production on an Indian reservation and to evaluate
options for managing the associated produced water in an effort to
minimize the environmental impacts of the water.

Other DOE national laboratories also have undertaken studies related to
the management and regulation of produced water. For example,
Argonne National Laboratory published a study in 2002 that described
regulatory issues affecting the management of produced water from
coalbed methane production. 47 This was followed by a 2004 study that
provided information on how produced water is managed and regulated,
and the cost of various management practices. 48 More recently, Argonne
National Laboratory published a series of studies describing produced
water management practices in different energy-producing regions,
including the Marcellus formation in the Appalachians and the Fayetteville
Shale in Arkansas. In addition, Sandia National Laboratories partnered
with a producer to study options for managing produced water from
coalbed methane, and published its analysis in 2008. 49 Also, Oak Ridge
National Laboratory has developed new approaches for produced water
sampling, analysis, and remediation, and Los Alamos National Laboratory
is currently conducting research to provide information about how
produced water can be used to cultivate algae for biofuel production.

Other federal agencies have also contributed to research on the
management and regulation of produced water. Specifically, the Bureau
of Reclamation partially funded a publication containing the proceedings
from an April 2006 workshop on produced water, 50 and the agency
presented information about the beneficial use of produced water at the




47
  John A. Veil, Argonne National Laboratory, Regulatory Issues Affecting Management of
Produced Water from Coal Bed Methane Wells (February 2002).
48
  John A. Veil et al., Argonne National Laboratory, A White Paper Describing Produced
Water from Production of Crude Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal Bed Methane.
49
  Malynda Cappelle, Randy Everett, William Holub, Richard Kottenstette, and Allan
Sattler, Sandia National Laboratories, Coal Bed Natural Gas Produced Water Preliminary
Pilot Plant Operation and Results (August 2008).
50
 Colorado Waters Resources Research Institute, Colorado State University, Produced
Water Workshop (April 4-5, 2006).




Page 32                                                 GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                            2007 International Petroleum Environmental Conference. 51 In addition, in
                            2006, USGS issued a bibliography of studies from across oil- and gas-
                            producing areas that it had compiled from the last 80 years. These
                            studies describe the effects of produced water on soils, water quality, and
                            ecosystems. 52


Federal Research Has        Federal research efforts, primarily conducted by DOE’s national
Explored New Ways and       laboratories, have also focused on new technologies and treatment
Existing Alternatives for   methods for produced water. Sandia National Laboratories, for example,
                            has partnered with a producer to conduct pilot testing of a new treatment
Treating Produced Water     system to lower the salt content of produced water from coalbed methane
                            sources. 53 NETL has partnered with Los Alamos National Laboratory, the
                            New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, and the University of
                            Texas on a long-term project to develop and test a prototype for a new
                            treatment system that uses an innovative filtration method to remove
                            problem contaminants and that would facilitate on-site treatment of
                            produced water. From March 2003 through the end of 2005, NETL also
                            partnered with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and industry to develop
                            and test novel liquid solvents to remove organic substances from
                            produced water. In addition, NETL is currently sponsoring a project to
                            develop high-temperature nanofiltration technology to remove
                            contaminants from produced water. According to the agency, the goal of
                            this project is to minimize environmental impacts from coalbed methane
                            and shale gas operations and allow cost-effective reuse of produced
                            water that will reduce freshwater consumption and disposal costs. More
                            recently, NETL sponsored research that led to the development of a new
                            treatment system that, according to the agency, successfully treated
                            flowback water from a hydraulic fracturing site in Pennsylvania. According
                            to NETL, the treatment system significantly reduced the producer’s
                            disposal costs.



                            51
                             Steve Dundorf and Katie Benko, Geographical Assessment of Potential for Beneficial
                            Use of Produced Water (presented at the International Petroleum Environmental
                            Conference, Houston, 2007).
                            52
                              James K. Otton, Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, Environmental
                            Aspects of Produced-water Salt Releases in Onshore and Coastal Petroleum-producing
                            Areas of the Conterminous U.S. – A Bibliography, Open-File Report 2006-1154.
                            53
                             Malynda Cappelle et al., Sandia National Laboratories, Coal Bed Natural Gas Produced
                            Water Preliminary Pilot Plant Operation and Results.




                            Page 33                                                GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                  Other federal research efforts have been designed to improve existing
                  techniques to treat produced water. For example, NETL partnered with
                  Texas A&M, Argonne National Laboratory, and industry to develop
                  improved reverse osmosis membrane filtration technology for the removal
                  of salt from produced water. The desalination technology developed
                  through this project led to the construction of a large-scale mobile unit
                  and the development of a commercial oilfield treatment system at a site in
                  Texas, according to NETL officials. Similarly, NETL has partnered with
                  industry to develop a process that, when combined with existing reverse
                  osmosis treatment, will facilitate the reuse of produced water by lowering
                  energy requirements needed to treat produced water and by reducing
                  membrane fouling.


                  We provided a draft of this report to the Department of Energy, the
Agency Comments   Department of the Interior, and the Environmental Protection Agency for
                  review and comment. None of these agencies provided written
                  comments to include in our report; however, the Environmental Protection
                  Agency and the Department of the Interior provided technical comments,
                  which we incorporated as appropriate.




                  Page 34                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
As agreed with your office, unless you publicly announce the contents of
this report earlier, we plan no further distribution until 30 days from the
report date. At that time, we will send copies of this report to the
appropriate congressional committees, the Secretary of Energy, the
Secretary of the Interior, the EPA Administrator, and other interested
parties. In addition, the report will be available at no charge on the GAO
website at http://www.gao.gov.

If you or your staff members have any questions about this report, please
contact us at (202) 512-3841 or mittala@gao.gov or ruscof@gao.gov.
Contact points for our Offices of Congressional Relations and Public
Affairs may be found on the last page of this report. GAO staff who made
major contributions to this report are listed in appendix III.

Sincerely yours,




Anu K. Mittal
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Frank Rusco
Director, Natural Resources and Environment




Page 35                                          GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology
             Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




             Our objectives for this review were to describe (1) what is known about
             the volume and quality of produced water from oil and gas production; (2)
             what practices are generally used to manage and treat produced water,
             and what factors are considered in the selection of each; (3) how the
             management of produced water is regulated at the federal level and in
             selected states; and (4) what federal research and development efforts
             have been undertaken during the last 10 years related to produced water.

             To address each of these objectives, we conducted a literature review of
             studies and other documents on produced water quality and volume,
             management, and regulation issued by federal agencies and laboratories,
             state agencies, the oil and gas industry, and academic institutions. These
             documents included peer-reviewed scientific and industry periodicals,
             government-sponsored research, and reports from nongovernmental
             research organizations. We identified this literature through a systematic
             search of databases such as ProQuest, EconLit, and BioDigest, and used
             an iterative process to identify the most relevant studies for our review.
             We believe we have included the key studies and have qualified our
             findings, where appropriate. However, we may not have identified all of
             the studies with findings relevant to our objectives. In addition, we
             reviewed studies that fit the following criteria for selection: (1) the
             research was of sufficient breadth and depth to provide observations or
             conclusions directly related to our objectives; (2) the research was
             targeted specifically toward the volume and quality of produced water,
             available management practices and treatment methods, regulation of
             produced water broadly and in selected states, and undertaken by the
             federal government; and (3) the research was typically published in the
             last 10 years. We examined key assumptions, methods, and relevant
             findings of major scientific articles primarily related to water volumes and
             quality, and treatment methods. Where applicable, we assessed the
             reliability of the data we obtained and found them to be sufficiently
             reliable for our purposes.

             In addition, we interviewed federal and state regulatory officials; federal
             scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of
             Research and Development and the Department of Energy’s (DOE)
             Argonne National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, National
             Energy Technology Laboratory, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and
             Sandia National Laboratories; officials from oil and gas exploration and
             production companies; officials from water treatment facilities; and other
             experts with experience related to produced water. The federal and state
             regulatory officials included those with responsibility over oil and gas
             regulation, as well as clean water and drinking water regulation. We


             Page 36                                          GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix I: Scope and Methodology




focused our review of management techniques and produced water
regulation on nine states—California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, New
Mexico, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming. We selected
eight of these states because the volume of produced water generated
within their borders accounts for nearly 90 percent of the produced water
generated in the United States as of 2007, the most recent year for which
there were available data. In addition, we selected Pennsylvania because
of the recent growth in shale gas development in the Marcellus shale
formation and the expected potential for large-scale produced water
management approaches in this area. While oil shale production has
expanded and continues to expand in Texas, North Dakota, and other
states, we did not look specifically at produced water from oil shale as
part of this review. Furthermore, GAO will be conducting future work on
the development of shale gas resources and the use of hydraulic
fracturing for oil and gas development and will address these topics more
fully in subsequent reports.

We supplemented our literature review and stakeholder discussions with
site visits to selected locations in Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wyoming,
where we met with oil and gas producers and officials from produced
water treatment facilities and discussed issues related to produced water
management and treatment and the factors that influence these
decisions. We selected these states because of the current and potential
volumes of produced water generated, the range of hydrocarbons
produced, and the different management and treatment practices
employed. We also visited hydraulic fracturing drilling operations,
underground injection control sites, and a number of different treatment
facilities employing a variety of technologies. To determine what federal
research and development efforts have been undertaken during the last
10 years related to produced water, we analyzed information supplied by
and conducted interviews with federal officials from DOE and select
national laboratories, EPA, and the Department of the Interior’s U.S.
Geological Survey, Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of
Reclamation.

We conducted this performance audit from October 2010 to January
2012, in accordance with generally accepted government auditing
standards. Those standards require that we plan and perform the audit to
obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for
our findings and conclusions based on our audit objectives. We believe
that the evidence obtained provides a reasonable basis for our findings
and conclusions based on our audit objectives.



Page 37                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                       Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                       Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                       Undertaken during the Last 10 Years


Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years
                       The following is a list of federally sponsored research efforts undertaken
                       in the last 10 years that we identified in consultation with officials from the
                       Department of Energy and select national laboratories, the Department of
                       the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the National
                       Research Council. These research efforts include those related to the
                       quantity, quality, management, treatment, and use of produced water.



Department of Energy

Argonne National       The following studies were published by or prepared for Argonne National
Laboratory             Laboratory.

                       Analysis of Data from a Downhole Oil/Water Separator Field Trial in East
                       Texas. February 2001.

                       Clark, C.E and J.A. Veil. Produced Water Volumes and Management
                       Practices in the United States. September 2009.

                       Harto, Christopher. Shale Gas – The Energy Water Nexus. April 2011.

                       Argonne National Laboratory. An Introduction to Slurry Injection
                       Technology for Disposal of Drilling Wastes. September 2003.

                       Puder, Markus G., Bill Bryson, and John A. Veil. Compendium of
                       Regulatory Requirements Governing Underground Injection of Drilling
                       Wastes. February 2003.

                       Puder, M.G. and J. A. Veil. Offsite Commercial Disposal of Oil and Gas
                       Exploration and Production Waste: Availability, Options, and Costs.
                       August 2006.

                       Veil, John A. and John J. Quinn. Downhole Separation Technology
                       Performance: Relationship to Geologic Conditions. November 2004.

                       Veil, John A. and Maurice B. Dusseault. Evaluation of Slurry Injection
                       Technology for Management of Drilling Wastes. May 2003.

                       Veil, J.A. and M.G. Puder. Potential Ground Water and Surface Water
                       Impacts from Oil Shale and Tar Sands Energy-Production Operations.
                       October 2006.



                       Page 38                                            GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                      Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                      Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                      Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




                      Veil, John A. Regulatory Issues Affecting Management of Produced
                      Water from Coal Bed Methane Wells. February 2002.

                      Veil, J., J. Gasper, M. Puder, and P. Leath. Summary of DOE/PERF
                      Water Program Review. January 2006.

                      Veil, John A. Thermal Distillation Technology for Management of
                      Produced Water and Frac Flowback Water. Water Technology Brief
                      #2008-1. May 13, 2008.

                      Veil, J.A. and J.J. Quinn. Water Issues Associated with Heavy Oil
                      Production. November 2008.

                      Veil, John A. “Water Management Practices Used by Fayetteville Shale
                      Gas Producers.” Oil & Natural Gas Technology (June 2011).

                      Veil, John A. “Water Management Technologies Used by Marcellus Shale
                      Gas Producers.” Oil & Natural Gas Technology (July 2010).

                      Veil, John A., Markus G. Puder, Deborah Elcock, and Robert J. Redweik,
                      Jr. A White Paper Describing Produced Water from Production of Crude
                      Oil, Natural Gas, and Coal Bed Methane. January 2004.


Los Alamos National   The following studies were published by or prepared for Los Alamos
Laboratory            National Laboratory.

                      Altare, Craig R., Robert S. Bowman, Lynn E. Katz, Kerry A. Kinney, and
                      Enid J. Sullivan. “Regeneration and Long-term Stability of Surfactant
                      Modified Zeolite for Removal of Volatile Organic Compounds from
                      Produced Water.” Microporous and Mesosporous Materials, 105 (2007):
                      305-316.

                      Kwon, Soondong, Enid J. Sullivan, Lynn E. Katz, Robert S. Bowman, and
                      Kerry A. Kinney. “Laboratory and Field Evaluation of a Pretreatment
                      System for Removing Organics from Produced Water.” Water
                      Environment Research, vol. 83 (2011).

                      Ranck, J. Michael, Robert S. Bowman, Jeffrey L. Weeber, Lynn E. Katz,
                      and Enid J. Sullivan. “BTEX Removal from Produced Water Using
                      Surfactant-Modified Zeolite.” Journal of Environmental Engineering
                      (March 2005).



                      Page 39                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                        Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                        Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                        Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




                        Sullivan, E.J., C.A. Dean, T.M. Yoshida, B. Cordova, M. Rearick, P. Laur,
                        A. Viszolay, L. Brown, and J. Brown. Chemical Quality Impacts of Oil and
                        Gas Produced Water as a Growth Medium for Nannochloropsis Grown at
                        Pilot Scale for Biofuel Production. LA-UR-11-11017.


National Energy         The following studies were published by or prepared for the National
Technology Laboratory   Energy Technology Laboratory.

                        Billingsley, R.L. Identifying and Remediating High Water Production
                        Problems in Basin-Centered Formations. December 2005.

                        Brown, Terry, Carol D. Frost, Thomas D. Hayes, Leo A. Heath, Drew W.
                        Johnson, David A. Lopez, Demian Saffer, Michael A. Urynowicz, John
                        Wheaton, and Mark D. Zoback. Final Report: Produced Water
                        Management and Beneficial Use. January 2009.

                        Burnett, David B. and Mustafa Siddiqui. Recovery of Fresh Water
                        Resources from Desalination of Brine Produced During Oil and Gas
                        Production Operations. September 2003–December 2006.

                        COAL BED METHANE PRIMER—New Source of Natural Gas –
                        Environmental Implications: Background and Development in the Rocky
                        Mountain West. February 2004.

                        DOE Oil and Natural Gas Water Resources Program. December 2009.

                        Feasibility Study of Expanded Coal Bed Natural Gas Produced Water
                        Management Alternatives in the Wyoming Portion of the Powder River
                        Basin Phase One. January 2006.

                        A Guide to Practical Management of Produced Water from Onshore Oil
                        and Gas Operations in the United States. October 2006.

                        Handbook on Best Management Practices and Mitigation Strategies for
                        Coal Bed Methane in the Montana Portion of the Powder River Basin.
                        April 2002.

                        Handbook on Coal Bed Methane Produced Water: Management and
                        Beneficial Use Alternatives. July 2003.

                        Modern Shale Gas Development in the United States: A Primer. April
                        2009.


                        Page 40                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                        Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                        Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                        Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




                        Policy Analysis of Produced Water Issues Associated With In-Situ
                        Thermal Technologies. January 2011.

                        Remson, Don J. Produced Water in the Rocky Mountain Region—
                        Quantity and Quality. November 2005.

                        Review of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Program. July
                        1, 2010.

                        Siting, Design, Construction and Reclamation Guidebook for Coalbed
                        Natural Gas Impoundments. May 2006.

                        Ground Water Protection Council, State Oil and Natural Gas Regulations
                        Designed to Protect Water Resources. May 2009.

                        Use of Produced Water in Recirculated Cooling Systems at Power
                        Generating Facilities. September 2006.

                        Wang, Xixi, Bethany A. Kurz, and Marc D. Kurz. Subtask 1.18 – A
                        Decision Tool for Watershed-Based Effluent Trading. February 2007.

                        Welch, Robert A. and Dwight F. Rychel. Produced Water from Oil and
                        Gas Operations in the Onshore Lower 48 States. December 2004.


National Energy         The following are past and current projects funded by the National Energy
Technology Laboratory   Technology Laboratory, but for which no studies have been published.

                        Advanced Membrane Filtration Technology for Cost-Effective Recovery of
                        Fresh Water from Oil and Gas Produced Brine. Project start: 2003.
                        Project end: 2006.

                        Anti-Fouling Reverse Osmosis Desalination System. Project start: 2009.
                        Project end: 2010.

                        Barnett and Appalachian Shale Water Management and Reuse
                        Technologies. Project start: 2009. Estimated project end: 2011.

                        Cleaning Agents for Produced Water Membrane Filters. Project start:
                        2004. Project end: 2006.

                        Coal Bed Methane Best Management Practices Workshop. Project start:
                        2003. Project end: 2004.


                        Page 41                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Coalbed Methane Research. Project start: 2006. Project end: 2008.

Coalbed Natural Gas Produced-Water Treatment Using Gas Hydrate
Formation at the Wellhead. Project start: 2005. Project end: 2009.

Coalbed Natural Gas Produced-Water Treatment Using Gas Hydrates.
Project start: 2006. Project end: 2008.

Coalbed Natural Gas Research. Project start: 2003. Project end: 2006.

Comprehensive Lifecycle Planning and Management System for
Addressing Water Issues Associated with Shale Gas Development in
New York, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Project start: 2009. Estimated
project end: 2012.

Cost Effective Recovery of Low-TDS Frac Flowback Water for Re-use.
Project start: 2009. Project end: 2011.

Cost-Effective Treatment of Produced Water Using Co-Produced Energy
Sources for Small Producers. Project start: 2008. Original project end:
2010 (extended).

Effects of Irrigating with Treated Oil and Gas Product Water on Crop
Biomass and Soil Permeability. Project start: 2008. Project end: 2010.

Energy in the Environment-Initiatives 2004-09. Project start: 2004. Project
end: 2009.

Evaluations of Radionuclides of Uranium, Thorium, and Radium
Associated with Produced Fluids, Precipitates, and Sludges from Oil,
Gas, and Oilfield Brine Injection Wells in Mississippi. Project start: 2002.
Project end: 2003.

Field Validation of Toxicity Tests to Evaluate the Potential for Beneficial
Use of Produced Water. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2008.

GIS and Web-Based Water Resource Geospatial Infrastructure for Oil
Shale Development. Project start: 2008. Estimated project end: 2012.

Handbooks for Preparing, Evaluation Development, Environmental Plans
and Background Development Pertinent to Coal Bed Methane
Production. Project start: 2002. Project end: 2005.



Page 42                                           GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Hypoxia, Program Review, and Total Petroleum Hydrocarbon Workshop.
Project start: 2006. Project end: 2008.

Identification, Verification, & Compilation of Produced-Water Best
Management Practices for Conventional Oil & Gas Production
Operations. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2007.

Improving Science-Based Methods for Assessing Risks Attributable to
Petroleum Residues in Soil Transferred to Vegetation. Project start: 2002.
Project end: 2005.

Innovative Water Management Technology to Reduce Environmental
Impacts of Produced Water. Project start: 2008. Estimated project end:
2012.

An Integrative Framework for the Treatment and Management of
Produced Water. Project start: 2008. Estimated project end: 2011.

An Integrated Water Treatment Technology Solution for Sustainable
Water Resource Management in the Marcellus Shale. Project start: 2009.
Estimated project end: 2011.

Integration of Water Resource Models with Fayetteville Shale Decision
and Support Systems. Project start: 2009. Estimated project end: 2012.

Life Cycle Assessment, Produced Water, and Waste Management
Analyses. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2007.

Long-term field Deployment of a Surfactant Modified Zeolite Vapor Phase
Bioreactor System. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2007.

Long Term Field Development of a Surfactant-Modified Zeolite/Vapor-
Phase Bioreactor System for Treatment of Produced Waters for Power
Generation. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2007.

Management of Produced Water. Project start: 2003. Project end: 2006.

Managing Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water for Beneficial Uses,
Initially Using the San Juan and Raton Basins as a Model. Project start:
2003. Project end: 2008.

Membrane Technology for Produced Water at Lea County, NM. Project
start: 2008. Estimated project end: 2011.


Page 43                                         GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Microbial Ecology of Shale Gas Production Waters. Project start: 2011.
Estimated project end: not established.

Modified Reverse Osmosis System for Treatment of Produced Water.
Project start: 2000. Project end: 2004.

Modeling of Water-Soluble Organic Content in Produced Water. Project
start: 2002. Project end: 2005.

NMWAIDS: A Produced-Water Quality and Infrastruture GIS Database for
New Mexico Oil Production. Project start: 2002. Project end: 2005.

Northeast National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska Reconnaissance-Level
Airborne Contaminants Study. Project start: 2001. Project end: 2006.

Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation (NCIR) Coalbed Natural Gas
Resource Assessment and Analysis of Produced-Water Disposal
Options. Project start: 2001. Project end: 2004.

Novel Cleanup Agents for Membrane Filters Used to Treat Oilfield
Produced Water for Beneficial Purposes. Project start: 2004. Project end:
2007.

Novel Fouling—Reducing Coatings for Ultrafiltration, Nanofiltration and
Reverse Osmosis Membranes. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2008.

Pilot Testing: Pretreatment Options to Allow Re-Use of Frac Flowback
and Produced Brine for Gas Shale Resource Development. Project start:
2009. Estimated project end: 2011.

Pretreatment and Water Management for Frac Water Reuse and Salt
Production. Project start: 2009. Estimated project end: 2011.

Produced Water Management and Beneficial Use. Project start: 2005.
Project end: 2007.

Produced Water Management and Beneficial Use/15549 Colorado School
of Mines. Project start: 2005. Project end: 2007.

Produced Water Management and Beneficial Use/15549 Colorado School
of Mines. (Different portion of the preceding project with distinct project
identification.) Project start: 2005. Project end: 2007.



Page 44                                         GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Produced Water Treatment and Decision Tool. Project start: 2008.
Estimated project end: 2012.

Provide Support to Produced Water: Osage-Skiatook Petroleum
Environmental Research Project. Project start: 2001. Project end: 2006.

Range Resources Baseline Monitoring Site for Marcellus Shale Gas.
Project start: 2011. Estimated project end: not established.

Recovery of More Oil-in-Place at lower Production Costs While Creating a
Beneficial Water Resource. Project start: 2002 Project end: 2006.

Research and Development Concerning Coalbed Natural Gas—
Congressional Mandate. Project start: 2006. Project end: 2008.

Research to Enhance Oil and Gas Development and Environmental
Protection on Federal Lands: Joint Montana Regional Coalbed Natural
Gas Ground-Water Monitoring Program. Project start: 2005. Project end:
2008.

Risk Based Data Management System (RBDMS) and Cost Effective
Regulatory Approaches (CERA) Related to Hydraulic Fracturing and

Geologic Sequestration of CO-2. Project start: 2009. Estimated project
end: 2012.

Subsurface Drip Irrigation. Project start: 2007. Estimated project end:
2014.

Sustainable Management of Flowback Water during Hydraulic Fracturing
of Marcellus Shale for Natural Gas Production. Project start: 2009.
Estimated project end: 2012.

Treating Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water for Beneficial Use by MFI
Zeolite Membranes. Project start: 2004. Project end: 2008.

Treatment and Beneficial Reuse of Produced Waters Using a Novel
Pervaporation-Based Irrigation Technology. (NETL in-house project not
yet awarded.)

Treatment of Produced Water by FARADAVIC Electrodialysis and
Reverse Osmosis. Project start: 2009. Project end: 2010.



Page 45                                         GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Treatment of Produced Waters using a Surfactant Modified Zeolite/Vapor-
Phase Bioreactor. Project start: 2002. Project end: 2006.

Treatment of Produced Waters Using a Surfactant-Modified
Zeolite/Vapor-Phase Bioreactor System. Project start: 2003. Project end:
2006.

Treatment of Produced Waters Using a Surfactant-Modified
Zeolite/Vapor-Phase Bioreactor System. (Next phase.) Project start:
2004. Project end: 2006.

Unconventional High Temperature Nanofiltration for Produced Water
Treatment. (Phase I.) Project start: 2009. Project end: 2010.

Unconventional High Temperature Nanofiltration for Produced Water
Treatment. (Next phase.) Project start: 2010. Project end: 2012.

Use of Ionic Liquids in Produced-Water Clean-up. Project start: 2003.
Project end: 2005.

Use of Stable Isotopes to Discern Marcellus Produced Water When
Commingled with Surface Water or Shallow Groundwater. Project start:
2011. Estimated project end: not established.

Use of Wetland Plant Species and Communities for Phytoremediation of
Coalbed Natural Gas Produced Water and Waters of Quality Similar to
that Associated with Coalbed Natutral Gas Deposits of the Powder River
Basin. Project start: 2001. Project end: 2008.

Using Helicopter Electromagnetic Surveys to Determine the Hydrologic
Fate of Coalbed Methane Produced Water. Project start: 2002. Project
end: 2004.

Water Management Strategies for Improved Coalbed Methane Production
in the Black Warrior Basin. Project start: 2009. Estimated project end:
2012.

Water-Related Issues Affecting Conventional Oil and Gas Recovery and
Potential Oil Shale Development in the Uinta Basin, Utah. Project start:
2008. Estimated project end: 2011.

Water & Waste Regulatory Analysis. Project start: 2006. Project end:
2008.


Page 46                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                     Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                     Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                     Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




                     Zero Discharge Water Management for Horizontal Shale Gas Well
                     Development. Project start: 2009. Estimated project end: 2011.


Oak Ridge National   The following studies were published by or prepared for Oak Ridge
Laboratory           National Laboratory.

                     Bostick, Debra T., H. Luo and B. Hindmarsh. Characterization of Soluble
                     Organics in Produced Water. January 2002.

                     Klasson, K. Thomas, Costas Tsouris, Sandie A. Jones, Michele D.
                     Dinsmore, David W. Depaoli, Angela B. Walker, Sotira Yiacoumi, Viriya
                     Vithayaveroj, Robert M. Counce, and Sharon M. Robinson. Ozone
                     Treatment of Soluble Organics in Produced Water. Petroleum
                     Environmental Research Forum Project 98-04. January 2002.

                     McFarlane, J. “Application of Chemometrics to Modeling Produced Water
                     Contamination.” Separation Science and Technology, 40 (2005): 593-
                     609.

                     McFarlane, Joanna. Modeling of Water-Soluble Organic Content in
                     Produced Water. May 2006.

                     McFarlane, Joanna. New Approaches to Produced Water Sampling,
                     Analysis and Remediation at ORNL. 2004.

                     McFarlane, Joanna. Measurement, Characterization and Prediction of
                     Organic Solubility in Produced Water. Presentation at Gas Technology
                     Institute Natural Gas Technologies II Conference and Exhibition,
                     February 8-11, 2004.

                     McFarlane, Joanna. Offshore Versus Onshore Produced Water
                     Characterization and Models. Presentation at Gas Technology Institute
                     Natural Gas Technologies II Conference and Exhibition, February 8-11,
                     2004.

                     McFarlane, Joanna, Debra T. Bostick, and Huimin Luo. Characterization
                     and Modeling of Produced Water. 2002.

                     Ren, R.X. Room Temperature Ionic Liquids for Separating Organics from
                     Produced Water. Separation Science and Technology, 40 (2005): 1245-
                     1265.



                     Page 47                                       GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                        Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                        Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                        Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




Sandia National         The following study was published by or prepared for Sandia National
Laboratories            Laboratories.

                        Cappelle, Malynda, Randy Everett, William Holub, Richard Kottenstette,
                        and Allan Sattler. Coal Bed Natural Gas Produced Water Preliminary Pilot
                        Plant Operation and Results. August 2008.



Department of the
Interior

Bureau of Reclamation   The following studies were published by or prepared for the Bureau of
                        Reclamation.

                        Benko, Katie L. “Ceramic Membranes for Produced Water Treatment.”
                        World Oil (April 2009): 1-3

                        Benko, Katie L and Jörg E. Drewes. “Produced Water in the Western
                        United States: Geographical Distribution, Occurrence and Composition.”
                        Environmental Engineering Science, vol. 25, no. 2 (2008): 239-246.

                        Benko, Katie and Jörg Drewes, Pei Xu, and Tzahi Cath. “Use of Ceramic
                        Membranes for Produced Water Treatment.” World Oil, Gulf Publishing
                        Company, vol. 230, no. 4 (April 2009).

                        Drewes, Jörg E, Pei Xu, Dean Heil, and Gary Wang. Multibeneficial Use
                        of Produced Water Through High-Pressure Membrane Treatment and
                        Capacitive Deionization Technology. Desalination and Water Purification
                        Research and Development Program Report No. 133. February 2009.

                        Dundorf, Steve and Katie Benko. “Geographical Assessment of Potential
                        for Beneficial Use of Produced Water.” Presentation at International
                        Petroleum Environmental Conference. November 2007.

                        Colorado Waters Resources Research Institute, Colorado State
                        University, Produced Water Workshop, (April 4-5, 2006). The publication
                        of workshop results was partially funded by the Bureau of Reclamation.




                        Page 48                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                         Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                         Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                         Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




U.S. Geological Survey   The following studies were published by or prepared for the U.S.
                         Geological Survey.

                         Engle, Mark A., Carleton R. Bern, Richard W. Healy, James I. Sams,
                         John W. Zupancic, and Karl T. Schroeder. “Tracking solutes and water
                         from subsurface drip irrigation application of coalbed-methane produced
                         waters, Powder River Basin, Wyoming.” Environmental Geosciences, v.
                         18, no. 3 (September 2011): 1-19.

                         Farag, Aida M., David D. Harper, Anna Senecal, and Wayne A. Hubert.
                         “Potential Effects of Coalbed Natural Gas Development on Fish and
                         Aquatic Resources.” Chapter 11 in Coalbed Natural Gas: Energy and
                         Environment. Nova Science Publishers, Inc., 2010.

                         Healy, Richard W., Cynthia A. Rice, Timothy T. Bartos, and Michael P.
                         McKinley. “Infiltration from an impoundment for coal-bed natural gas,
                         Powder River Basin, Wyoming: Evolution of water and sediment
                         chemistry.” Water Resources Research, Vol. 44, W06424, June 2008.

                         Healy, Richard W., Timothy T. Bartos, Cynthia A. Rice, Michael P.
                         McKinley, and Bruce D. Smith. “Groundwater chemistry near an
                         impoundment for produced water, Powder River Basin, Wyoming USA.”
                         Journal of Hydrology, 403 (2011): 37-48.

                         Kharaka, Y.K., and J.K. Otton, 2003, Environmental Impacts of Petroleum
                         Production: Initial Results from the Osage-Skiatook Petroleum
                         Environmental Research Sites, Osage County, Oklahoma: USGS Water-
                         Resources Investigations Report 03-4260.

                         Orem, William H., Calin A. Tatu, Harry E. Lerch, Cynthia A. Rice, Timothy
                         T. Bartos, Anne L. Bates, Susan Tewalt, and Margo D. Corum. “Organic
                         compounds in produced waters from coalbed natural gas wells in the
                         Powder River Basin, Wyoming, USA.” Applied Geochemistry 22 (May
                         2007): 2240-2256.

                         Otton, James K. Environmental Aspects of Produced-water Salt Releases
                         in Onshore and Coastal Petroleum-producing Areas of the Conterminous
                         U.S. – A Bibliography. Open-File Report 2006-1154.

                         Peterman, Zell E., Joanna N. Thamke, Kiyoto Futa, and Thomas A.
                         Oliver. Strontium Isotope Detection of Brine Contamination in the East
                         Poplar Oil Field, Montana. Open-File Report 2010-1326.



                         Page 49                                        GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
                    Appendix II: List of Ongoing and Completed
                    Federal Produced Water Research Efforts
                    Undertaken during the Last 10 Years




                    Rice, Cynthia A., Timothy T. Bartos, and Margaret S. Ellis. Chemical and
                    Isotopic Composition of Water in the Fort Union and Wasatch Formations
                    of the Powder River Basin, Wyoming and Montana: Implications for
                    Coalbed Methane Development. Coalbed Methane of North America – II,
                    2002: 53-70.

                    Rowan, E.L., M.A. Engle, C.S. Kirby, and T.F. Kraemer. Radium Content
                    of Oil- and Gas-Field Produced Waters in the Northern Appalachian
                    Basin: Summary and Discussion of Data. Scientific Investigations Report
                    2011-5135, 2011.

                    Smith, Bruce D., Joanna N. Thamke, Michael J. Cain, Christa Tyrrell, and
                    Patrica L. Hill. Helicopter Electromagnetic and Magnetic Survey Maps
                    and Data, East Poplar Oil Field Area, Fort Peck Indian Reservation,
                    Northeastern Montana, August 2004. Open-File Report 2006-1216,
                    Version 1.0.

                    Soeder, Daniel J. and William H. Kappel. Water Resources and Natural
                    Gas Production from the Marcellus Shale. USGS Fact Sheet 2009-3032.
                    May 2009.


                    Environmental Protection Agency, Draft Hydraulic Fracturing Study Plan
Environmental       (April 28, 2011).
Protection Agency

                    Committee on Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane
National Research   Development and Produced Water in the Western United States,
Council             Committee on Earth Resources, Board on Earth Sciences and
                    Resources, Water Science and Technology Board, Division on Earth and
                    Life Studies, National Research Council of the National Academies.
                    Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Produced Water in the
                    Western United States. 2010.




                    Page 50                                       GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Appendix III: GAO Contacts and Staff
                  Acknowledgments



Acknowledgments

                  Anu Mittal, (202) 512-3841 or mittala@gao.gov
GAO Contacts      Frank Rusco, (202) 512-3841 or ruscof@gao.gov


                  In addition to the contacts named above, Elizabeth Erdmann, Assistant
Staff             Director; Colleen Candrl; Nancy Crothers; Randy Jones; Annamarie
Acknowledgments   Lopata; Alison O’Neill; Stuart Ryba; Rebecca Sandulli; Rebecca Shea;
                  Lindsay Taylor; and Barbara Timmerman made significant contributions
                  to this report.




(361237)
                  Page 51                                      GAO-12-156 Energy-Water Nexus
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