While oil sands mining projects uses the greatest volume of nonsaline water overall, enhanced oil recovery (EOR) uses the most nonsaline water among non-mining technologies. EOR requires water to be injected into a well to increase or maintain its pressure so that the remaining oil can be produced at nearby recovery wells.
In 2016, EOR used 14 million cubic metres of nonsaline water (14 per cent of all water allocated for EOR) to produce 183 million BOE. A five-year trend shows that nonsaline water use for EOR has decreased by 25 per cent as production from EOR decreased by 16 per cent. This is mainly due to a decrease in EOR activity across the province.
In 2016, EOR used 0.49 barrels of nonsaline water to produce one BOE. Overall, EOR has shown a 15 per cent improvement in its nonsaline water use intensity from 2012 to 2016.
Future water use reports will show company-specific data for enhanced oil recovery.
Hydraulic fracturing uses the least amount of nonsaline water among extraction technologies. In 2016, hydraulic fracturing companies used 7 million cubic metres of nonsaline water (11 per cent of all water allocated for hydraulic fracturing) to produce over 355 million BOE. The amount of water used for hydraulic fracturing in Alberta varies each year, depending on economic conditions and the number of wells that are drilled and fractured.
In 2016, hydraulic fracturing used 0.38 barrels of nonsaline water to produce one barrel of oil equivalent (BOE). Overall, hydraulic fracturing has shown a 35 per cent increase in its nonsaline water use intensity since 2013. Since hydraulic fracturing in horizontal wells is a relatively new use of the technology, water use intensity is expected to vary as operators test different strategies and methods to optimize hydrocarbon production.
Future water use reports will show company-specific data for hydraulic fracturing.