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.


WaterHoldingParts of our operations are located in water-scarce areas, which we evaluate by the concept of water stress. According to a 2014 report on water demand from Ceres, 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 legal right to use and offset freshwater needs by recycling produced fluids. In Utah, a water stressed area, we recycled 96 percent of the water used in our operations in 2015 while disposing of only four percent. Company-wide, we recycled 42 percent of our total produced water in 2015 and beneficially-used a small fraction for irrigation and disposed of the remaining amount.


Newfield Operational Water Balance Flowchart

Newfield Water Supply / Demand / Disposition Flowchart During 2015

All numbers without units are in bbls water per day "bwpd".


Black indicates operational demand


Orange indicates produced water


Cyan indicates recycled produced water


Dark Blue indicates fresh water supply


Water Resource Highlights

Significant storage capacity is required for produced water recycling. Over the past three years we have spent nearly $15 million constructing produced water storage pits in both our SCOOP and STACK plays accumulating a total storage capacity of 4.8 million barrels. These storage pits, which are regulated by the Oklahoma Corporation Commission (OCC), are required to go through a lengthy permitting process before construction can begin and includes:

  • A geotechnical investigation
  • Professional engineers sealed civil engineering design
  • Double liners with leak detection
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Closure bonding

In our SCOOP and STACK plays of Oklahoma, 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 decrease tailpipe emissions—enhancing air quality benefits. Over the past three years, we have spent nearly $60 million constructing a 162-mile infrastructure system in our SCOOP and STACK operating areas. 

In 2015, Newfield participated in a Department of Energy funded study with the University of Pittsburgh and North Dakota State University. Researchers studied native microbial populations in produced water from hydraulic fracturing operations in the Bakken to determine microbes’ effect on well integrity. Results from this study may be used to help identify ways to treat produced water at a lower cost, enable water reuse and reduce fouling and corrosion during water holding. In 2016, we continue to work with these universities on a biofilm study to complement findings from their microbial research.


2015 State Totals

Produced Water Recycling and Disposal