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Transporting Water to Drilling Sites

Martin Preene Principal, Golder Associates, Leeds, UK

November 2013
Background to water supply to drilling sites
Transportation methods
Options to deploy transportation methods

Background to Water Supply
Significant quantities of water are needed for oil & gas
drilling sites
This presentation assumes that a source of water has been
identified and is available
A key problem is that the water source is typically not on the
drilling site, and the water must be transported to the site, by
means that are practicable, environmentally acceptable and
This presentation will look at the challenges of transporting
water to drilling sites
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Background to Water Supply
Water is required on drilling sites for a range of purposes:
Site welfare
Drilling fluid make up
Hydraulic fracturing

The volume of water required for hydraulic fracturing will be unique to
each site and each well, controlled by:
Working methods
Regulatory constraints

But it is clear that large volumes of water are required
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Background to Water Supply
How much water is needed for hydraulic fracturing?
American practice (e.g. EPA, API) reports that 2 to 5 million
US Gallons per well is typical (this is 7,500 to 19,000 m
The Poyry (2011) Report for Ofgem Impact of
Unconventional Gas on Europe states that hydraulic
fracturing typically requires 20,000 m
per well. It also states
that a deep well with multistage hydraulic fracturing may
require 30,000 m
per well
These are large volumes for an individual well, and there
may be multiple wells from a single drill pad
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Background to Water Supply
Water transportation options will be controlled not just by the total
volume but also by flow rate (Volume Time)
The longer the time available to transport a given volume of water, the
lower the average flow rate this reduces the capacity of the required
water transportation infrastructure
Say a well needs 20,000 m
of hydraulic fracturing water in 10 stages of
2,000 m
If the water for each stage has to be delivered to site in 1 day that is a
mean flow rate of 2,000 m
/day (23 litre/sec) or 67 x 30 m
road tanker
loads in 24 hours
But, if the water for each stage can be delivered to site over 4 days that
is a mean flow rate of 500 m
/day (6 litre/sec) or an average of 17 x
30 m
road tanker loads in each 24 hour period

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Water Supply Source Options
Possible water source Possible access point
Mains water supply Water company source works;
Water company trunk main
Surface water abstraction River, lake or water body
Groundwater abstraction Water wells
Industrial process water Existing industrial facility

Additionally, there may be an option to re-use some of the on-site water
by treating and re-cycling some of the flow back water recovered from
the well this will reduce the water volumes requiring transportation

But in general, the water source will be away from the drilling site, and
some means to transport large volumes of water will be required

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Transportation Methods
The main options for transport of water to be used in hydraulic
fracturing are:
Sourcing on site (e.g. groundwater wells at the drill pad)
Trucking (i.e. road tankers)
Surface laid steel/aluminium sectional pipe
Surface laid high specification layflat flexible pipework
Buried HDPE pipes (e.g. conventional utility water main

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Sourcing on Site (Groundwater)
This is the easiest transportation option because the water
is generated on site, typically by abstracting groundwater
Instead of requiring infrastructure for transportation, the
infrastructure is required on the drill pad to allow the water
to be abstracted
Low visual impact and limited impact on neighbouring
Groundwater will not be an option on all sites
Various steps are needed to determine if groundwater is
available and can be used

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Sourcing on Site (Groundwater)
A site investigation is required to determine whether the drill
pad is located over an aquifer and if groundwater is of
acceptable quality

Any significant abstraction (more than 10 to 20 m
/d) will
require licensing by the environmental regulator
England: Environment Agency
Wales: Natural Resources Wales
Scotland: Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland Environment Agency

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Sourcing on Site - Wellpoints
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If shallow (less than 10 m deep)
sand or gravel aquifers are present
it may be possible to use shallow
pumped wellpoints
These are arrays of shallow wells
pumped by suction pumps, can be
diesel or electrically powered
Widely available, simple

Sourcing on Site Water Wells
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If the aquifer is
deeper, one or more
conventional water
wells will have to
Wells are pumped
by slimline electric
submersible pumps
Widely available
Photo: BDF
Trucking of water (via mobile water tankers) is a means of
transporting water without the need for permanent or semi-
permanent water transportation infrastructure
There may be a need for infrastructure to fill and discharge
the tankers
Large number of vehicle movements will be involved. This
may require road improvements or changes in traffic
The impact of vehicle movements should be recognised in
environmental studies
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Articulated road tankers can
carry up to 30 m
of water
Travel on public roads, are
very visible sign of a project,
will impact local
Large number of vehicle
movements required
20,000 m
requires 667 x
30 m
tanker loads
On public roads individual
drivers are subject to driving
hours controls (like any
other HGV)
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Photo: Water Direct
An alternative to water
tankers is to transport water
in ISO containers carried by
conventional trucks
A 20 foot ISO container can
be fitted with an internal
liner water bag which
allows it to hold and
discharge 24 m
of water
More discrete transportation
(does not look like a tanker)
but more vehicle
movements compared to
30 m
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Photos: Water Direct
It is likely that a fleet of several
tankers will be needed for each
High flow rate pumps will be
needed at fill and discharge
points to speed up the transport
Road system may need uprating
There are significant health and
safety and space issues
associated with marshalling such
large numbers of truck
movements at fill and discharge

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Photo: Water Direct
Temporary Pipework (All Types)
Temporary pipework can be rigid and
sectional or flexible and effectively
Generally surface laid (not buried)
Route choices are:
Line of sight (cross-country) land access
for working strip required, need to cross
hedges, ditches, damage to farmland
Road side (indirect) follow highways,
need to cross side roads and junctions
(trench under road or ramp road over pipe)
Laying activities and long term presence
of pipework needs to be included in
environmental studies
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Photo: Millars Products
Photo: Angus Flexible Pipelines
Temporary Pipework (All Types)
The potential advantages of temporary
pipework are:
Removed at the end of the project
Can be re-used on multiple projects
Can be procured on a sale or rental basis
Avoids the impact on communities of
multiple tanker movements
The potential disadvantages of temporary
pipework are:
Highly visible
Potentially at risk of vandalism or
accidental damage
Risk of water leakage from joints giving
potential environmental and health and
safety problems

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Photo: Millars Products
Photo: Angus Flexible Pipelines
Sectional Pipework
Sectional pipework is available in
steel and aluminium, in various
diameters (commonly 100 mm,
150 mm, 200 mm)
Diameter is chosen in relation to
desired flow rate and friction
losses/pumping costs
Standard lengths are 6 m or 12 m
Pipe is rigid so separate bends,
fittings, etc. are needed for major
changes in direction

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Photos: Millars Products
Sectional Pipework
Pipework is laid by mixture of mechanical
plant and manual handling
Pipework laid out by plant (telehandler or
rough terrain forklift) but final positioning
and connection by hand
Connections are either quick action
couplings (e.g. Bauer connections) or
bolted connections (e.g. Victaulic
One crew can typically lay 300 to 500 m
per day
Can be procured by purchase or rental
Removed and re-used at end of project
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Photo: Millars Products
High Specification Layflat Pipework
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Angus Flexible Pipelines
Specialist flexible pipework is
available in various diameters
(150 mm, 200 mm, 300 mm)
Diameter is chosen in relation to
desired flow rate and friction
losses/pumping costs. Smooth
bore flexible hose is typically
more hydraulically efficient than
sectional metal pipework
Standard lengths are 200 m reels,
coupled together (fewer joints
than sectional pipework)
Pipe is flexible and can cope with
gradual changes in direction

High Specification Layflat Pipework
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Angus Flexible Pipelines
Pipework is delivered on demountable
Pipework laid out by unreeling from the
back of a slowly moving truck
Connections made every 200 m,
typically bolted connections (e.g.
Victaulic connections)
One crew can typically lay 2,000 m per
hour in favourable conditions
Can be procured by purchase or rental
Removed and re-used at end of project
High Specification Layflat Pipework
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Angus Flexible Pipelines
Buried HDPE Pipework
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There is a wide range of contractors working
in the utility industry who are highly
experienced in laying buried HDPE pipework
Wide range of HDPE pipe different
diameters, material type and pressure rating.
Selection is based on desired flow rate and
friction losses/pumping costs.
Common sizes are in range 100 to 200 mm
Jointing normally by fusion welding
Pipework is relatively inflexible and requires
bends and fittings at major changes in

Buried HDPE Pipework
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Relatively slow to lay because of need to trench, backfill and re-instate.
One crew can typically lay 20 m per day in road carriageway, 40 m per
day in verge, higher rates can be achieved cross country in favourable
Disruptive during construction but finished pipeline has low visual
impact, low vulnerability to vandalism and reduced leakage risks
compared to surface pipelines
Lack of flexibility effectively must be purchased (no rental options)
cannot easily be removed and re-used at end of project
Deployment Options
Simplest option is single source and single transportation route
Pumps are needed at source to either push water along pipeline or to fill
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Single source single transportation
Deployment Options
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Multiple source single transportation
Deployment Options
If multiple drilling sites are to be developed, it may be possible to set up
a central hub at a location where it is straightforward to provide water,
e.g. by pipeline from source
Tankers would then truck water the final short distance to multiple sites
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Hybrid transportation with hub site
Deployment Options
If road access to drilling site is narrow, constrained or environmentally
sensitive, tanker movements can be avoided by laying a temporary
pipeline to a suitable transfer point where the tankers discharge
Reduces impact on local communities
May allow 24 hour cycle of water delivery to site, when local vehicle
movements would be restricted at night
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Hybrid transportation to reduce vehicle movements to drill site
Water transportation costs will be unique to each site, influenced by
factors such as:
The source of the water
Quantity of water and required flow rate
The distance between source and drilling site
The arrangement of the sites (individual water supply or multiple sites)
Type of water transportation
Environmental and permitting constraints

It is not possible to develop generic water transportation costs per m
perhaps more meaningfully costs per 1000 m
per km per day)
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Some approximate unit costs for water transportation infrastructure
are set out on the following slides:
These costs are direct costs and do not include design, site overheads
and site staffing at fill and discharge points, mobilisation or site set up
The cost of the water itself is not included, for example:
Unit costs (per m
) paid to water utilities for water from mains
Abstraction licensing costs
The pumping costs associated with filling tankers or pushing water along
pipelines are not included
Other cost exclusions are given for individual items
July 17, 2014 31
Drilling sites potentially require large volumes of water for hydraulic
fracturing and other purposes
The precise volumes needed will be unique to each well and each site,
but volumes of up to 20,000 to 30,000 m
per well may be required
Once a suitable water source has been identified and secured, the two
primary options are trucking and temporary pipelines, although there are
options for more permanent buried pipelines
Reliable water delivery is key to successful hydraulic fracturing, and
getting the required volumes to the drilling site is a major logistical
operation which should not be underestimated
Careful planning will be needed to ensure the infrastructure and logistics
are adequate to provide the water, that costs are optimised and that
environmental impacts are minimised
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Images and costs kindly provided by:
Groundwater supplies:
BDF: www.bdf.co.uk
Groundwater Engineering Limited: www.groundwaterinternational.com
Water tankers
Water Direct: www.water-direct.co.uk
Sectional pipework
Millars Products: www.millarsproducts.com
Groundwater Engineering Limited: www.groundwaterinternational.com
Flexible pipework
Angus Flexible Pipelines: www.flexiblepipelines.co.uk
Water mains
Murphy Group: www.murphygroup.co.uk
July 17, 2014 33
Martin Preene

November 2013

Transporting Water to Drilling Sites