Water Usage: Will Fracking Cause Water Shortage?

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Water Usage
| Conversations with T. Boone Pickens

 

Brian Bradshaw:

Hi. I'm Brian Bradshaw. I'm here with Boone Pickens as part of an ongoing series talking about current energy issues in the world. Boone, thanks for being with us.

T Boone Pickens:

Sure.

Brian Bradshaw:

Something that's quickly becoming front page news today is the water usage within the energy industry, with fracking all these new wells, how much water it takes. It can be as much as 4.2 million gallons per well. That sounds like ...

T Boone Pickens:

That's 100,000 barrels. 

Brian Bradshaw:

That's about 100,000 barrels. That sounds like a huge number. I think a lot of people sitting out there now say, "Okay, well if that's for one well if you're talking about 100 million gallons a day that this fracking industry is using, is that putting my water supply in jeopardy? Is this something I should worry about?"

T Boone Pickens:

No. It is not. And when you look at the water used to frack wells it's insignificant to the overall water use in the United States daily.

Brian Bradshaw:

Boone, how big is the daily water usage in this country?

T Boone Pickens:

400 billion gallons.

Brian Bradshaw:

I mean that is amazing.

T Boone Pickens:

It's amazing, and so when you talk about the use for fracking it is somewhat insignificant.

Brian Bradshaw:

It's very small. Now, there ... we're not completely ignoring the issue. I mean there can be local issues that could develop within this overall water structure.

T Boone Pickens:

Sure. There could be some place that could happen. Maybe Las Vegas.

Brian Bradshaw:

Right.

T Boone Pickens:

If you needed water there to frack wells, I don't know whether to say fortunate or unfortunate, I would imagine that Las Vegas would like to have wells developing in the area and all ... If they did they'd figure out how to manage it, but it could be a problem.

Brian Bradshaw:

And the industry has come a long way, even in the last five years. I mean they've  made substantial changes to the way they're operating. The Marcellus for example.

T Boone Pickens:

Yeah. The Marcellus, they're reusing 85% of the water. So there ... what they do is they frack with it and then they clean it up, use it again.

Brian Bradshaw:

So as local issues have arised, the industry has responded. They've made changes, because it costs money. The water issue for the companies involved costs money. They're having to pay for this water. They don't want to just dispose of it. They'd rather be able to reuse it again.

T Boone Pickens:

And they do. I mean that's just the way markets work. They all reuse water is the way it works. It does for me too. I frack wells too and we're reusing the water. 

Brian Bradshaw:

So the average person has nothing worry about their overall water supply of the country being put at risk because we're using too much water to frack with.

Internationally, does, does it present an opportunity for the United States?

T Boone Pickens:

Sure. I think that we manage water better. We're more advanced than any other place in the world, and so, but