Thursday, December 27, 2012

Update On Availability of Water Necessary to Frack Wells in the Bakken

Metric: amount of water being released from the Garrison dam. Dynamic link.

News item: The US Army Corps of Engineers is looking at allowing 30,000 acre-feet of "surplus" Missouri water be used for fracking.

1.  Back in late 2011, it was estimated that approximately 6 acre-feet of water was used to frack a Bakken well.

In a more recent article the estimate was 1 million to 3.5 million gallons of water is used to frack a Bakken well (see paragraph 3 below). The conversion factor: a acre-foot = 325,851 gallons. Therefore 1 million to 3.5 million gallons converts to 3 acre-feet to 10 acre-feet.

Currently, it is estimated that about 2,000 wells will be fracked each year in the Bakken. That equates to somewhere between 6,000 acre-feet to 20,000 acre-feet of water being required to frack Bakken wells on an annual basis. Again, the USACE is looking at releasing 30,000 acre-feet of water.

2.  Maximum water storage of Lake Sakakawea is 23,800,000 acre-feet. 30,000 acre-feet represents 0.1% (one-tenth of one percent) of the volume of Lake Sakakawea. [Update: in the June 6, 2013, the NDIC stated that the amount of water needed to frack wells for two years in the Bakken equated to the top one inch of surface water in Lake Sakakawea. Bakken Activity Update, June 6, 2013, a PDF file.]

3. From the third link above:
Thanks to the Bakken shale, the state has become the country's second-biggest oil-producer practically overnight. And while the world still runs on oil, with the rise of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, oil increasingly runs on water. Drillers inject 1 million to 3.5 million gallons of pressurized water into each well to shatter the rock and free the oil. More of the trucks you see are carrying water than anything else, some 400 to 800 truckloads per well.
4. My arithmetic might be off.

5. And, of course, the Missouri is not static. As water is removed for fracking (or for farming for that matter) it is being replaced by additional water flowing downriver.

Bottom line: there is more than enough water for fracking in the Bakken. The US Army Corps of Engineers calls is "surplus" water and says they are considering 30,000 acre-feet to be released for fracking. At the very least, this would be enough water to frack 3,000 wells/year in the Bakken, and currently, about 2,000 wells are being fracked annually.

Lake Sakakawea is probably not the only source of water for fracking in the Bakken. Recycling of water for fracking will also decrease the amount of water required.


  1. Red River Well.

    Well # 22750 Whiting. 10000 barrels each month for first three months may have found hot spot. Ptetty good for vertical well.

    You may have already commented. Other Wells nearby are good but not that good.

    1. You are correct: I had not made any special comments about that well. It is a huge well for many reasons. I will be talking about it in my Friday meanderings, to be posted later. Thank you for calling attention to this well.

  2. Don't forget there is also a trend toward "recycling" the frac water being used - both as a means of saving money and as an effort to conserve resources. As this trend increases, that 1% will decrease a little at a time.

    1. You are correct. I actually put a note in about recycling and then deleted it. I don't know enough about recycling in the Bakken to comment on it. But, yet, I assume recycling will play a role before it's all over.