Noble Energy recognizes that water is an important resource for the oil and gas industry, our communities and the environment. With a comprehensive “protect, reduce, reuse and recycle” water management strategy, we continually work to reduce our impacts on water resources. To monitor our impacts on groundwater, we sample before drilling many wells in the DJ Basin and Marcellus Shale. In 2015, we conducted quarterly seawater sampling in Israel and conducted baseline seawater sampling in the Falklands Islands.
Decrease in U.S. onshore water consumption
In 2015, Noble Energy’s global operations used approximately 79.6 million barrels of water for drilling, completions, potable water and other activities.
Total water consumed onshore was reduced by 24 percent compared to 2014, primarily reflecting lower activity levels. No water sources were significantly affected by water withdrawals related to our operations and no water was discharged to surface water bodies from our onshore operations.
Onshore, 42,248,000 barrels of the water we used was derived from public or private sources, meaning that we obtained agreements from government agencies and/or private water rights holders to use the water.
Nine percent (4.2 million barrels) of the total volume of water we used onshore was recycled or reused water, reducing both our freshwater consumption and our disposed water volumes.
In the DJ Basin, we have changed our well completions process for many wells to allow saline water to be used. This will enable us to recycle water repeatedly in our operations, reducing our reliance on freshwater supplies.
In the Marcellus, more than 4 million barrels of Noble Energy’s flowback and produced water were recycled and reused in 2015, more than 1 million barrels higher than the amount recycled in 2014.
In the Eagle Ford and Permian Basin assets we acquired during 2015, recycled water had not previously been used. We are evaluating the use of recycled water in these plays.
Our offshore seawater consumption increased as we undertook a water injection project in our Equatorial Guinea offshore operations. This process uses seawater to maintain reservoir pressure and enhance oil production.
Approximately 12.3 million barrels of seawater were treated and returned to the source. Some 244,600 barrels of freshwater were consumed in our global offshore operations, primarily for non-industrial use. Where possible in our offshore operations, we limit our use of freshwater primarily to human consumption and treat seawater for most other uses.
In Pennsylvania, we responded to the state’s strict storm water design criteria by developing a complex site design and construction protocol. This solution provides greater protection of downstream waterbodies by limiting erosion and sedimentation issues. We have adopted some of these protocols as best practices in West Virginia as well, going above and beyond that state’s environment and safety requirements.
In 2015, we started a water monitoring protocol in a watershed known to contain federally threatened and endangered mussel populations. This process will also provide valuable population and viability data via multi-year surveys, which will help guide future development decisions.
Our operations in Equatorial Guinea, which are located off the eastern coast of Bioko Island in the Gulf of Guinea, operate under a variety of international standards and best management practices for effluent discharge control. Little to no water runoff is experienced from the facilities.
In the Falkland Islands, we developed and successfully implemented a vessel ballast water management plan to help reduce or eliminate the possible introduction of invasive species into the Falkland Islands that could lead to a potential change in the ecosystem.
In 2015, Noble joined the South Platte Water Related Activities Program, an organization that allows us to offset our water consumption in the DJ Basin to address Endangered Species Act issues related to the Platte River. The program assists in the recovery of species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA.
Noble Energy’s work with Colorado Water Watch was recognized in 2015 by the Colorado Oil and Gas Association and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (COGCC). At the annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit, Noble received a COGCC Operator Award for Water Quality Protection /New Technology Application. Noble Energy is a partner and sponsor for Colorado Water Watch, a monitoring network of water quality sensors located near oil and gas operations. The company helps fund the project’s infrastructure, including wells and equipment.