Water Efficiency and Conservation

We know that water is a valuable and limited resource, and we take care to use it responsibly in our operations. Developing energy resources can require large volumes of water, and significant energy is needed to source, treat and deliver water. With increasing demand for energy and water, we are actively managing and conserving water resources to minimize the impact of our operations.

Water Use

Onshore, we consumed 97 million barrels of water in 2017 compared to 50 million barrels of water in 2016. This increase in consumption is due to increased activity in our Texas operations. We acquired Clayton Williams Energy in April 2017 and subsequently increased our drilling and completions activities. We drilled longer lateral wells, which decreases surface impacts, but leads to an increase in water consumption per well. No known water sources were significantly affected by water withdrawals related to our operations.

Where practical, we recycle and reuse water in our operations. In 2017, 1.4 million barrels of flowback and produced water were recycled and reused onshore. This reuse practice reduces both our freshwater consumption and produced water disposal volumes. In June 2017, we divested our Marcellus Shale assets, which constituted a significant portion of our total recycling volumes during previous years. This divestiture resulted in a reduction of the total volume of water we recycled from 2016 to 2017. However, we continue to investigate opportunities to expand our water recycling program in our core operating areas.

In the Permian Basin, we have strategically designed our operations infrastructure to include produced water recycling along with disposal options. This includes a network of water pipelines that will allow us to reuse water from one site at another. This system became operational at the end of 2017 and­ is intentionally compatible with our central gathering facilities1 to facilitate the expansion of the water recycling program. 

In the DJ Basin, the start-up of a new water recycling facility enabled us to recycle and reuse 470,000 barrels of water. We also continued participation in the South Platte Water Related Activities Program (SPWRAP), an organization that allows us to offset water consumption in the DJ Basin to address Endangered Species Act (ESA) issues related to the Platte River. The program assists in the recovery of species listed as threatened or endangered under the ESA and works by re-timing water flows to benefit federally-listed endangered species.

Onshore Water Disposal

We disposed of 37 million barrels of water in our U.S. onshore operations during 2017; 12% of which was disposed of in our operated disposal facilities. None of this water was discharged to surface water bodies.

Offshore Water Disposal

Offshore total water consumption remained at approximately the same level as i­n 2016, but we were able to use more seawater and thereby reduce our freshwater consumption by nearly 50 percent.

1Central gathering facilities are operated by Noble Midstream Partners, LP.