Texas Railroad Commission Recycling Rules Allow Industry to Reduce Fresh Water Use in Oil and Gas Production

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AUSTIN – Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick hosted a Texas Oil and Gas Water Conservation and Recycling Symposium in Austin today. Oil and gas operators said at the meeting that Railroad Commission rule amendments enacted more than a year ago have made it economically viable for them to enhance their water recycling efforts and help conserve Texas’ water resources.

The meeting comes just a little over a year after the Railroad Commission made major amendments to the Commission’s recycling rules in an effort to encourage further conservation, reuse and recycling of produced water by oil and gas operators in the oilfield.

“Today, operator Fasken Oil and Ranch reported that they expect to no longer use freshwater in their operations by the end of June 2014, resulting in a total of approximately 2.3 million gallons of fresh water left in the ground,” Commissioner Craddick said.

“Due to the drought our state is currently experiencing, the importance of water conservation and scrutiny over water usage continues to grow, and the industry is doing their part in conserving this precious resource,” Craddick said. “We know that industry technology in water recycling is changing the way energy is developed in Texas. We are working to fully understand the scope and potential of current recycling technologies, so that our agency’s regulatory oversight can help maximize these efforts. The production of Texas’ great mineral wealth can go hand in hand with conserving our precious water resources as has been illustrated by numerous oil and gas operators today,” Craddick said.

At the symposium, industry representatives updated Commissioner Craddick and staff on industry best practices in water recycling and conservation and discussed future directions, challenges and opportunities to further conserve water. Highlights of industry accomplishments discussed at the symposium include the following:

  • Recycling has significantly reduced the use of fresh water in oil and gas production operations.
  • Companies who gave presentations at today’s symposium currently report recycling capacity of up to 1.5 million barrels of water per day; have recycled up to 50 million barrels of water since industry focus to increase recycling began in 2012; and are using recycled produced water to account for up to 100 percent of their water needs in energy production.
  • The amount of produced water hauled by trucking and disposed underground has decreased, and will continue to decrease exponentially.
  • Produced water is now a resource and sold as a commodity for re-use in hydraulic fracturing operations.

At the symposium, 26 companies with recycling operations were represented, and the 15 companies below gave presentations on their recycling achievements:

AES Water Solutions

Apache Corporation

Baker Hughes

Fasken Oil and Ranch, LTD

Fountain Quail Water Management, LLC


Laredo Petroleum

Occidental Permian, LTD

Omni Water Solutions

Pioneer Natural Resources

Purestream Services

Rock Water Energy Solutions


Water Lens, LLC

Water Rescue Services Holdings, LLC