Study Shows Oil and Natural Gas Development Uses Small Proportion of Western Water

July 16, 2014
  • Report shows industry uses significantly less water than ag, recreation, municipal and other industries
  • Tracks water use in major production states of Colo., Mont., NM, ND, Utah and Wyo.

(DENVER) – Oil and natural gas activities in the West use little water compared to other activities, according to a study released today by Western Energy Alliance. The Oil and Natural Gas Exploration and Production Water Sources and Demand Study analyzes state-by-state the volume of water used by oil and natural gas activities compared to other industries. The study tracks water usage in the six major western producing states of Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming 

Water is essential to the development of oil and natural gas resources, and like many other industries, it represents a critical component of the supply chain. The study, conducted by Golder Associates, a global engineering and environmental consultancy, shows oil and natural gas activities use markedly less water than agricultural, municipal, recreational, and other industrial activities.

“Responsible management of water is a priority for the industry,” said Jack Ekstrom, vice president of government affairs at Whiting Petroleum and chairman of Western Energy Alliance. “To engage in a constructive dialogue on water management and to make sound public policy, we must start with a baseline understanding. This report breaks ground by offering a serious and sober analysis of the data. It stands in stark contrast to the exaggeration we hear from environmental activists about oil and natural gas water use.”

“The Golder report shows that oil and natural gas activities in states like Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming represent less than one percent of the total water use,” said Ursula Rick, PhD, manager of regulatory affairs at Western Energy Alliance. “In the aggregate, our industry represents a very small use.

“Across the West, there is no established standard on reporting water usage, and some states do not currently monitor or publicly disclose water use. As a result, the study cites each state’s data according to its established reporting methods. Though dissimilar, the report provides the most comprehensive data available and a current perspective on the industry’s water activities.”

The study is available on Western Energy Alliance’s website.

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