Water Use and Recycling
Coterra’s operations are related to oil and natural gas extraction in the Permian, Anadarko, and Appalachian basins. Water is critical in hydraulic fracturing operations and must be efficiently managed to support the local needs and long-term viability of modern oil and natural gas production. Typical hydraulic fracturing fluid used in our operations is composed of more than 99 percent sand and water.
Our operations team developed an on-demand pipeline system in the Permian Basin that ties into our existing saltwater gathering and disposal infrastructure so that we can recycle produced water from our oil and gas wells to use as source water for our completion operations. This system reduces the Company’s need to purchase fresh or brackish water for Permian Basin hydraulic fracturing operations. As water volume requirements for stimulation operations have grown, Coterra has been able to meet the additional water requirements through this system. Permian Basin source water was comprised of 73% recycled volumes in 2020 versus 64% in 2019, while total sourced water in the basin decreased by 47% year-over-year due to decreased activity levels. In addition to our own produced water, Coterra actively investigates alternative means to minimize fresh water needs, such as sourcing produced water from third-party disposal facilities and other offset operators. When recycled water volumes do not fulfill our stimulation requirements, Coterra purchases water, including brackish and other non-potable water, from third-party sources.
All gathered produced water in excess of volumes used for a completions operation is disposed in saltwater disposal (SWD) wells. We use our gathering system to transport these excess volumes to SWD wells, which we typically own and operate (third-party SWD wells utilized when necessary). When determining the locations and underground target formations of our SWD wells, we forecast produced water rates for future development needs and consider any potential seismic impact. We also review the Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) programs of the third-party operators of SWD wells that dispose of our produced water to ensure they are operating at a high standard.
In the Anadarko Basin, we primarily source our completion water needs from local water sources. We regularly assess community needs for water versus industry demand. If community constraints are forecasted, Coterra has contingency plans in place to move to alternative water sources. The oil and gas wells in the Anadarko Basin produce significantly lower volumes of water than the Permian Basin, and the majority of our Anadarko water production is associated with completion operations. As a result, the water production is short-lived and is piped or trucked to SWD wells, most of which we operate. Any third-party operators that we use for water disposal are vetted to ensure they are operating at a high standard.
Along with our efforts to use water efficiently, we recycle and reuse process and produced waters where possible. In our Marcellus Shale operations, we recycle nearly 100% of the water generated by our drilling, completion and production operations. Recycled water that we do not use in our own operations is managed by third-party beneficial reuse and disposal facilities. We do not discharge process water, fracturing water, or produced water to surface water bodies. However, any water not processed for reuse by the permitted third-party beneficial reuse and disposal facilities may ultimately be treated for discharge to surface waters in strict compliance with their respective National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits or will otherwise be properly disposed in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
Addressing Landowner Concerns