2016-2017 Corporate Responsibility

Water Resource Management

As part of our business strategy and commitment to sustainability, we have developed local water management operating practices for our drilling and hydraulic fracturing programs that minimize freshwater use and our impact on the environment.


Waterholding2Parts of our operations are located in water-scarce areas, which we evaluate applying the concept of water stress. Water stress is defined as the ratio of water withdrawal to mean annual available supply in a given area*. To limit our competition for water in these areas, we utilize a fraction of the water that we have a legal right to use and offset freshwater needs by recycling produced fluids. In Utah, a water stressed area, we recycled 95 percent of the water used in our operations in 2016 while disposing of only five percent. Company-wide, of our 34 million barrels of total produced water generated in 2016, we recycled 33 percent and disposed of the remaining amount.

*Definition from a 2014 report on water demand from Ceres.


Daily Operational Water Balance

The water balance chart below tracks the movement of water through our operations on a daily basis. “Supply” shows our primary sources of potential water, including fresh water and brackish water. Water from these sources flows into “Demand,” which shows how much water is needed for each of our three operational areas—drilling, completions and production. Notably, in the “Dispose/Reuse” section, the water balance shows the volume of produced water treated and reused in completions and production operations, which limits the need for additional supply from outside sources.


Numbers represented in this flowchart are estimated within 10 percent. Daily water volume totals used in our operations are represented in barrels and acre-feet per day. An acre-foot of water is roughly equivalent to a football field filled with one foot of water. 


Water Resource Highlights

Significant storage capacity is required for effective water management. Since 2013, we have spent approximately $22 million constructing water storage pits in the SCOOP and STACK plays of Oklahoma, accumulating a total storage capacity of 17 million barrels. Produced water occupies a third of this capacity. Produced water pits are regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC) and are required to go through a detailed permitting process before construction can begin. Certain specified safety measures have to be implemented and equipment has to be installed before the pits can be utilized. Some of the actions required include:

  • Geotechnical investigation
  • Professionally-engineered designs
  • Installation of double liners with leak detection
  • Sanctioned maintenance procedures
  • Closure bonding

Across our Oklahoma operations, we installed buried water pipeline systems infrastructure early in the development phase to lower operating expenses and decrease the opportunity for spills and accidents that are more likely to occur when moving water by truck. Utilizing pipelines also helps to reduce tailpipe emissions—enhancing air quality benefits. Since 2010, we have spent $86 million constructing a 144-mile* infrastructure system across all of our Oklahoma operating areas, with the majority of pipeline located in SCOOP and STACK. 

*Previous reporting represented our infrastructure in dual-pipe mileage (side-by-side pipe). Current reporting converts mileage to right-of-way miles—the actual distance covered. 

Newfield continues to work with the National Energy Technology Laboratory on a Department of Energy funded-study, focused on native microbial populations. Researchers have been examining the bacteria population in produced water from hydraulic fracturing operations in the Bakken to determine their effect on well integrity. Results from this study may be used to help improve produced water management including methods to treat produced water at lower costs, enable water reuse and reduce fouling and corrosion during water holding. Plans are to continue to partner with the research group on the next stage of this study, tracking not only microbial community composition, but also microbial processes, pathways and fluid chemistry.

Barton Water Recycling Facility

Launched in August 2017, our Barton Water Recycling Facility is located on 30 acres in Oklahoma’s STACK play in the Anadarko Basin. The new, innovative facility recycles flowback and produced water from our operations in the area. Constructed to handle nearly 100 percent of the produced and flowback water generated in Newfield’s STACK play, the quality of the recycled water meets and exceeds the standard required for completions operations.

781-1402-RecycleThe Barton facility currently processes 30,000 barrels of water per day (BWPD) of produced and flowback water from our STACK wells and hydraulic fracturing operations for a savings of 11 million barrels of water per year. Capable of recycling up to 40,000 BWPD, the facility is expected to recycle produced water for years to come in our STACK play, leading to continued water savings for the Company and the community.

The science is simple. An aerated biologic treatment technology is used to convert produced water into recycled water which can be exploited again for hydraulic fracturing. The treatment process uses natural and enhanced bioremediation to separate and break down any existing impurities that may be contained in the produced water. The end result is a high-quality water, primarily free of impurities—very similar to what is initially found in the reservoir rock.

By the end of 2017, Newfield’s $50 million investment in the facility and related infrastructure will include 60 total miles of buried water pipeline in and out of the facility. The inclusion of a pipeline infrastructure is expected to reduce truck traffic by as many as 100,000 round trips per year, already taking 250 trucks off the road per day. This means fewer tailpipe emissions and a decreased likelihood of traffic incidents in the local community. Further, it also has reduced the amount of produced water sent to saltwater disposal wells.

Recycling our flowback and produced water means fewer fresh water withdrawals from local streams and ponds—ensuring more fresh water stays at its source for other community uses. It also helps to ensure continual water availability for Newfield’s operations while protecting Oklahoma’s freshwater resources from overconsumption. Although Newfield has water recycling programs in other states where it has ongoing operations, the Barton recycling facility was the Company’s first in Oklahoma.



2016 State Totals

Produced Water Recycling and Disposal


Note: Recycled/reused and disposed water volumes are estimated within 10 percent. This represents the last year for reporting on Texas operations since these assets were sold at the end of 2016.


LeftArrow-50   Seismicity-50   AirQualityClimateChange-50      Biodiversity-50   WasteManagement-50   RightArrow-50

Page last updated on December 15, 2017