Our history of leadership in water conservation includes local efforts in Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Alberta.
A commitment to reuse water
Water is an essential resource for our neighboring communities and for Devon’s business. We’ve been building a track record in water conservation since 2004, when we set out to recycle water in the first U.S. shale play, the Barnett Shale in North Texas. Since then, we have collaborated with stakeholders in government, industry and communities to find ways to conserve water in our drilling and completions operations. Above all, we are committed to the principles of water conservation and reuse in our operations and to our core value to be a good neighbor.
Water-use performance management
Guided by the environmental stewardship principle in our EHS Philosophy, we continually seek to understand our relationship to the environment and adopt technically sound and economically feasible controls that will minimize our environmental impact. Devon’s water principles – stakeholder engagement, water management planning, technology evaluation and deployment, and best-practices development – aid us in executing a sustainable water management strategy that balances ecological, economic, operational and social criteria.
Devon’s EHS professionals and our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Steering Committee monitor laws, regulations and stakeholder concerns related to water, and then share them with our leadership team. We have a staff of water experts in the U.S. that focuses on planning, technology and best practices, including evaluation of potential risks to our operations and the needs of surrounding communities. The plans are updated periodically, based on business needs and local environmental considerations.
Leading New Mexico in reusing water
Our history of leadership in water conservation includes being the first company to recycle flowback and produced water from natural gas wells in North Texas and becoming the largest user of treated produced water in New Mexico, where we led the effort to establish state rules to encourage the practice.
Today, reused water accounts for more than 80 percent of the company’s needs in arid southeastern New Mexico’s Delaware Basin, where we have constructed eight impoundment basins – each 15-feet deep and covering four acres. They’re integral to our operations and to saving water, connected by a local pipeline network without which we’d be hauling water that would fill about 500 trucks per day. We use fresh water in the Delaware only for blending, and only when reused water isn’t available in sufficient quantities.
The Oklahoma Plan
Devon takes a local approach to developing water-management plans, which consider the availability and quality of water, local ecosystems and habitats, regulations and other factors. In our home state of Oklahoma, where demand for water is growing, Devon is evaluating a water-management strategy based on the Oklahoma Comprehensive Water Plan. The goal of the state water plan is to consume no more fresh water in 2060 than was consumed in 2010.
Given our strong desire to be good environmental stewards, we have actively sought alternatives to fresh water. We are exploring how to further incorporate marginal-quality, non-potable water into our STACK operations. When feasible, we use brackish water, flowback and produced water as sources for well completions. In addition, we’ve built local pipelines connecting well sites to central water reuse and storage facilities that have conserved millions of barrels of water.
In Wyoming, our Rockies business unit is working to establish a water-recycling program as we prepare to increase our activity level there. We plan to begin recycling water in Wyoming in 2019.
Each year, we voluntarily report information about our water-management program and water-use metrics in the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) Water Report.
Conservation in Canada
In our oil sands operations in Alberta, Devon Canada’s Jackfish project was the first commercial steam-assisted gravity drainage (SAGD) facility to use no fresh water in its operations. Instead, we use only saline water to create the steam required to produce heavy oil, and more than 85 percent of this water is recycled.
Our water specialists use a regional numerical groundwater model to assess water-related risks; regular monitoring of surface water, wetlands and ground water is a routine part of business. As a member of Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA), we collaborate on the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to reduce water use and increase water-recycling rates.